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5 killed in US missile strike

world Updated: Oct 12, 2008 09:37 IST

A suspected U.S. missile strike killed five tribesmen in a Pakistani town close to the Afghan border, the latest in a series of attacks in a region where top al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding, two intelligence officials said. Two unmanned drones were seen above the town of Miran Shah in north Waziristan minutes before missiles hit a house near a matchbox factory in the town late Saturday, the officials said, based on reports from informants in the town.

Initial reports suggested three people were killed, but later two more bodies were recovered from rubble of the house of Umar Daraz, a local tribeman, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The intelligence officials said there was no report of killing of any foreign militant in the latest missile attack. Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters have established bases throughout Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal regions, where they are said to plan attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as violence in Pakistan.

Under U.S. pressure, Pakistan has carried out military offensives against insurgents while also trying to woo various tribes to turn against extremists. But in recent weeks, the U.S. has signaled its impatience with Pakistani efforts by apparently stepping up cross-border assaults on alleged militant targets. The U.S. is suspected in at least 11 missile strikes on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border since mid-August, killing more than 100 people, most of them alleged militants, according to an Associated Press count based on figures provided by Pakistan intelligence officials.

The United States rarely confirms or denies the attacks, which provoke anger among many Pakistanis. Pakistan's military and civilian leaders have criticized the strikes as violations of their country's sovereignty, but have not forcefully demanded that Washington stop them, provoking criticism from Muslim conservatives. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment Saturday.