WASHINGTON: The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) top spy in Pakistan, who helps oversee drone strikes against alleged militants, has been forced to leave the country amid threats to his life, a US intelligence official said on Friday.
The official did not provide further details about the abrupt departure of the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief. But the New York Times reported the spy was pulled out after his name -- classified as secret -- was revealed in a lawsuit by a Pakistani tribesman, Karim Khan, who alleges his son and brother were killed in a drone bombing raid.
The paper, citing unnamed US officials, also wrote that Pakistan's spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), may have had a hand in exposing the CIA spy, possibly in retaliation for a legal suit in New York that implicated the ISI chief in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
"This exceptional officer -- who had already served beyond a regular tour -- is returning to the United States after the decision was made that terrorist threats against him in Pakistan were of such a serious nature that it would be imprudent not to act," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
The intelligence official indicated the threats would not affect the spy agency's bombing war against al Qaeda and Taliban figures in northwest Pakistan, which the US government avoids discussing openly. "The CIA's mission in Pakistan, including the agency's relentless fight against militants, continues unabated," the official said.
The United States has dramatically expanded bombing raids by robotic aircraft since the summer of 2008, with 117 strikes so far this year, double the number of attacks in 2009, according to the independent New America Foundation in Washington.
The CIA station chief's departure came as a barrage of US missiles killed over 50 suspected militants in Khyber Agency. The missile attack targeted compounds in the district, officials said. The episode coincided with renewed calls in Washington on Thursday for Pakistan to clamp down on Afghan Taliban militants exploiting havens along the country's western border with Afghanistan.
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