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Pakistan: U.S. Drone Allegedly Kills 4

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A young supporter of the Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami chants slogans during a rally against drone strikes in the country's tribal areas, Sunday, June 5, 2011 in Karachi, Pakistan. | AP

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — A suspected U.S. drone fired missiles at a house in northwest Pakistan before dawn Tuesday, killing four militants in the country's main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters near the Afghan border, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Also in the northwest, two roadside bombs killed 12 people in Khyber region, said local government official Jamil Khan. He said one of them hit a vehicle. Khan said nine militants in the vehicle died, and that the identity of the other three dead was not yet know. The official said it was not clear who targeted the militants, suggesting that it might be infighting between two insurgent groups.

The house hit in the drone strike was located in the bazaar in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Initial reports indicate two foreigners were among the dead, but their precise nationalities were not known, said the officials. The attack also injured two suspected militants, they said.

The U.S. has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan launch an offensive in North Waziristan since militants use the area to stage cross-border attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has refused, saying its troops are stretched too thin by operations in other parts of the semiautonomous tribal region along the Afghan border. But analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target Afghan Taliban militants with whom it has historical ties and could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw.

As a result, the Obama administration has dramatically increased the number of drone attacks in the tribal region, especially in North Waziristan. The U.S. refuses to speak publicly about the drone program in Pakistan, but officials have said privately that the strikes have killed senior Taliban and al-Qaida commanders.

Pakistani officials regularly condemn the strikes as violations of the country's sovereignty, but the government is widely believed to have supported the attacks in the past, and even let drones take off from bases in Pakistan.

That support has come under strain as relations between Pakistan and the U.S. have deteriorated, especially in the wake of the covert U.S. raid that killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani army town on May 2.


Associated Press Writer Hussain Afzal in Parachinar, Pakistan contributed to this report.

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