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U.S. drone strikes pick up after Osama bin Laden's death

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Drone strikes in the last 11 days have averaged one each two days
  • That's up from an average of one every six days before the bin Laden raid
  • The increase doesn't suggest new intelligence from bin Laden raid, an analyst says

(CNN) -- The United States has sent drones to strike at suspected militants in Pakistan five times in the last 11 days, nearly triple the pace prior to the successful May 1 raid to kill Osama bin Laden.

The latest strike occurred Monday, when a suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region killed 10 suspected militants, Pakistani intelligence officials told CNN.

Two intelligence officials who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media said the suspected drone fired two missiles on a militant's hideout in the area of Mir Ali of North Waziristan, one of the seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The Monday strike was the 25th suspected U.S. drone strike this year, according to a CNN count.

Between January 1 and May 5, the United States carried out 20 strikes, an average of about one every six days. From May 6 to Monday, the U.S. carried out five strikes, or an average of one about every two days.

There were 111 such strikes in 2010, according to the count.

The sudden increase is not likely due to new intelligence gained from the bin Laden raid, said Bill Roggio, a military affairs analyst and editor of the Long War Journal.

The United States has gone through periods of high-tempo drone strikes, Roggio said, as well as lulls such as the one the last few months. Roggio said the recent lull was likely caused by tension over the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis and other disputes between the countries' intelligence services.

With the Davis issue resolved and the bin Laden raid behind the U.S., the country's leaders don't feel as constrained to tamp down attacks inside Pakistan as they did the last two months, he said.

"This uptick is not unusual from a recent historical perspective, he said. "What has happened, since the bin Laden raid, is that the U.S. has not felt pressured to dial back the attacks due to Pakistani sensibilities."