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US drone strike kills five militants in Pakistan: officials

A US missile strike Sunday killed five militants in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, officials said.

world Updated: Sep 13, 2010 15:55 IST

A US missile strike Sunday killed five militants in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, officials said.

The drone attack hit Newey Adda village in Datta Khel area near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district, they said. "A US drone fired two missiles.

The target was a house used by militants as a compound. Five militants have been died," a senior security official in Peshawar told AFP.

Another intelligence official in Miranshah also confirmed the attack and the death toll. A third intelligence official in Miranshah said there were two "guests" among the dead. Guest is a term used for foreign militants.

He said the house was owned by a local tribesman named Mohammad Khalid, who has rented it out to the militants. The area is a renowned hub for Taliban militants and Al-Qaeda-linked rebels. Residents said five bodies had been dug from the rubble.

Some injured people had been taken to an unknown location for medical treatment. Last week, a total of 24 militants were killed in four US drone strikes in 24 hours in the same tribal district. Intelligence officials said they were trying to find out the nationalities of the militants killed in the latest attack.

Washington has branded the rugged area on the Afghan border -- part of which has been hit by Pakistan's catastrophic flooding -- a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth. US forces have been waging a drone war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked commanders in the northwestern tribal belt, where militants have carved out havens in mountains outside direct government control.

Officials in Washington say the drone strikes are a vital tool needed to protect foreign troops in Afghanistan and have killed a number of high-value targets including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

The US military does not as a rule confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy pilotless drones in the region.

More than 1,040 people have been killed in over 100 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, including a number of senior militants. However, the attacks fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.

Al-Qaeda announced in June that its number three leader and Osama bin Laden's one-time treasurer Mustafa Abu al-Yazid had been killed in what security officials said appeared to be a drone strike in North Waziristan.

Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens along the Afghan border, Pakistan has in the past year significantly increased operations against militants in the area. More than 3,700 people have been killed in the past three years in a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions across Pakistan, many of them carried out by the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists.