Suspected US missiles struck a house in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing five people in the latest American strike targeting militant leaders, intelligence officials said.
The strikes were in North Waziristan, a tribal region that has long been a haven for Taliban- and al-Qaida-linked militant networks battling American and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan. The suspect in the recent failed car bombing in New York's Times Square has claimed he trained in a militant camp somewhere in Waziristan.
Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the two missiles hit the house of local tribesman Awal Gul in Enzer Kasa village of the Datta Khel area. Residents pulled five bodies from the rubble and the death toll could rise. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. It was not immediately clear whether Gul had any ties to militant groups.
The US has used missiles to target militant hide-outs in North Waziristan dozens of times in recent months. Pakistan officially protests the strikes as violations of its sovereignty, but is believed to secretly aid them. The U.S. rarely discusses the unmanned-drone-fired strikes, a covert CIA program. In recent months, North Waziristan has become a new haven for Pakistani Taliban leaders who have fled a Pakistani army offensive in their previous stronghold, neighboring South Waziristan. The Pakistani Taliban, while linked to the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida, have primarily directed their attacks at targets inside Pakistan, making them a priority for the army.
The Pakistani army has held off on waging an offensive against other militant networks that are based in North Waziristan, despite US pressure, because it does not want to antagonize powerful insurgent groups there that have so far attacked only targets in Afghanistan, not Pakistani cities.