WASHINGTON – Some missile strikes in a recent surge of attacks by unmanned U.S. drones in Pakistan were aimed at disrupting suspected terrorist plots aimed at Europe, a Western counterterrorism official said.
The official said the targeted strikes were aimed at al-Qaida and other militant groups arrayed in Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghanistan border. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the terror plot remain sensitive.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris was briefly evacuated Tuesday, the second time in the past week because of an unspecified threat.
The Obama administration has intensified the use of drone-fired missiles in Pakistan's border area but this month there have been at least 21 attacks, more than double the highest number fired in any other single month.
A suspected American missile strike killed four militants in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, intelligence officials said. There was no word on the identities of those killed in the attack in South Waziristan region, which lies just across the border from Afghanistan. The Pakistani army last year launched a major antimilitant offensive in the region, though insurgents remain.
The counterterrorism official, who is familiar with the drone strikes and the details of the Europe terror plots, said Tuesday that the missile strikes in Pakistan are "a product of precise intelligence and precise weapons. We've been hitting targets that pose a threat to our troops in Afghanistan and terrorists plotting attacks in South Asia and beyond."
The official acknowledged that "our operational tempo has been up for a while now," and added that "given the stakes involved, we hope to keep the pressure on as long as we can."
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