A suspected US missile strike hit a settled northwest region well inside Pakistani territory on Wednesday, killing at least six alleged militants in an attack that could heighten already-fraught tensions between the anti-terror allies, officials said.
The missile struck a house in Indi Khel village in Bannu, which is part of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province and neighbors semiautonomous tribal areas that have borne the brunt of past such strikes.
Two Pakistani intelligence officials said their agents reported foreigners from Central Asia were among the dead. The intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.
The US is blamed in around 20 missile strikes in northwest Pakistan since mid-August.
Pakistan has loudly protested the strikes as violations of its sovereignty, but so far the attacks have not stopped, leading to speculation that the US and Pakistan have a secret deal on the cross-border attacks.
The US rarely acknowledges or comments on the strikes. The missiles are believed to be fired from unmanned planes launched in Afghanistan, where some 32,000 US troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban insurgency.
The strikes since August have almost exclusively been reported in North and South Waziristan, two regions within Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal regions that are considered havens for al-Qaida and Taliban linked fighters.
Pakistani officials have said the strikes are counterproductive because they often kill civilians and simply deepen anti-American sentiment along the border.
But US Gen David Petraeus has defended them, saying at least three top extremist leaders have been killed in recent months due to the attacks.