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Pakistan Suicide Bomb Kills 5 Soldiers

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A suicide car bomb killed five Pakistani soldiers and wounded nine others near the Afghan border on Thursday, the military said.

The bomber attacked security forces in South Waziristan's main town of Wana, a military statement said.

Al-Qaida- and Taliban-linked militants are believed to operate in the remote tribal area in the rugged, lawless tribal regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Pakistani troops have fought intense battles there in recent years.

U.S.-led coalition forces based across the Afghan border also have launched attacks on militants in the area. On Sunday, missiles that witnesses say came from an unmanned drone struck a suspected militant safehouse and killed about 20 people three miles outside of Wana.

Only U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan are known to operate unmanned drones in the region.

A string of militant attacks _ many of them suicide bombings _ have killed more than 600 people in Pakistan since beginning of the year. Authorities blame the attacks on militants operating in the tribal regions along Afghanistan.

Thursday's bomber struck as Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting Afghanistan, where he urged Pakistan to battle extremists in its border regions.

Standing beside Afghan President Hamid Karzai at a news conference, Cheney said the Pakistani government, like that of Karzai, is a target for al-Qaida and other extremists. "They have as big a stake as anyone else," he said.

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, underscored the threats Pakistan faces from extremism in comments she made at a graduation ceremony for Pakistani police officers trained with the help of the State Department.

"A small group of misguided individuals must not be allowed to deter the moderate, mainstream majority from building the prosperous and democratic future they envision for Pakistan," Patterson said.

Two vehicles were also damaged in Thursday's suicide attack, the military statement said. It gave no other details.

In a separate statement, Pakistan's military said it conducted a successful final test flight Thursday for a Pakistani-made drone called Uqaab, or Eagle.

It did not specify when the new pilotless plane would begin missions.