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U.S. Drones Kill 8 Suspected Militants Near Afghan Border in Pakistan, Officials Say

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DRONES NORTH WAZIRISTAN
In this March 7, 2011 file photo, Pakistan army soldiers patrol in the Pakistani tribal area of Ditta Kheil in North Waziristan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Iqbal,File) | AP
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DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan -- Several missiles fired from American drones slammed into a compound near the Afghan border in Pakistan early Tuesday, killing eight suspected militants, Pakistan officials said.

The two intelligence officials said the compound was located near the town of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan tribal area.

One of the officials said an al-Qaida operative was believed to have been killed in the strike.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

North Waziristan, the area where the strike occurred, is considered a stronghold for insurgent groups operating in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is one of the few parts of the tribal areas that border Afghanistan in which the Pakistani military has not conducted a military operation to root out militants, despite repeated pushes to do so from the American government.

Tuesday's strike was the fourth since the new year began.

On Sunday nine Pakistani Taliban fighters were killed when American missiles fired from several drones flying overhead slammed into three militant hideouts in another tribal area, South Waziristan.

The militant in charge of training suicide bombers for the Pakistani Taliban was believed by Pakistan intelligence officials to have died in Sunday's strike.

On Jan. 2, a drone strike killed a top Pakistani militant commander, Maulvi Nazir. He was accused of carrying out deadly attacks against American and other targets across the border in Afghanistan. But unlike most members of the Taliban in Pakistan, he negotiated a truce with the Pakistani military in 2009 and did not attack Pakistani troops or domestic targets.

The U.S.'s covert drone program is extremely controversial in Pakistan where many in the country look at it as an infringement on their sovereignty. Many Pakistanis complain that innocent civilians have also been killed, something the U.S. rejects.

Islamabad officially opposes the use of U.S. drones on its territory, but is believed to have tacitly approved some strikes in past.

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