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March 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM
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U.S. denies colluding with Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 10 (UPI) -- The United States denied it was colluding with the Taliban to keep stirring up trouble in Afghanistan in order to keep U.S. forces in the country.

The reassurances came after President Hamid Karzai said in a televised interview the Taliban was acting in concert with the Americans in order to slow down its troop withdrawal in the coming months.

"This is simply incorrect," one unnamed U.S. official told Stars and Stripes. "The United States and the government of Afghanistan share a common view of the Taliban, and that is that they are the enemy."

The official told the U.S. newspaper whatever political settlement is hammered out between Karzai and the Taliban will come from "an Afghan-led process."

Karzai, who has made outlandish statements in the past, said weekend bombings in the cities of Kabul and Khost were proof the Americans and Taliban were maneuvering to stoke fears over Afghanistan's security and keep U.S. combat forces in country beyond 2014. The alleged motivation for such a scenario was unclear.

U.S. drone strike kills 2 in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, March 10 (UPI) -- Officials said a U.S. drone fired missiles in Pakistan near the Afghan border Sunday, killing at least two people.

Geo News said the unmanned aircraft targeted a residential compound in the village of Tehseel Boya in North Waziristan.

The house was completely destroyed in the strike, Geo News said, and the victims were identified.

Pakistan has repeatedly denounced U.S. drone strikes as violations of its sovereignty.

Survey: U.S. gun ownership has declined

NEW YORK, March 10 (UPI) -- The number American households with guns has declined by more than 15 percent since the 1970s, data from the General Social Survey indicates.

In the early 1970s, household gun ownership was at about 50 percent and has steadily dropped to 34 percent in 2012, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The General Social Survey -- conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, NORC, at the University of Chicago -- polled about 2,000 people from March to September in 2012. The poll had a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Although gun ownership was at 32 percent in 2010, researchers said the difference in the statistics was not significant.

"There are all these claims that gun ownership is going through the roof," said Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. "But I suspect the increase in gun sales has been limited mostly to current gun owners. The most reputable surveys show a decline over time in the share of households with guns."

However, The Times said it is hard to tell what the actual rate of household gun ownership in the United States is, because various recent national polls reported a wide range of rates between 35 percent and 52 percent.

Boston bus driver attacked by 15 youths

BOSTON, March 10 (UPI) -- A Boston bus driver was attacked by as many as 15 people while on an early route in the Dorchester neighborhood, officials said.

The 53-year-old victim was driving the Route 16 bus at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday when a group of 10 to 15 youths boarded the bus and started punching him, The Boston Herald reported.

The bus driver was treated for injuries at the scene of the incident, the newspaper said.

Police said there is no video footage of the incident, but they have talked to several witnesses. They have not yet determined a motive for the attack.

"We have seen an uptick in assaults on bus operators, but typically they involve disputes over fares," said MBTA police Superintendent in Chief Joseph O'Connor. "In this case, it's highly unusual."

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