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Suspected US missile strike kills 10 in Pakistan: officials

Suspected US missile strike kills 10 in Pakistan: officials

A suspected US missile strike killed at least 10 Islamist militants in a Pakistani tribal region known as a hub of Al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels, security officials said Friday.

The strike comes amid repeated warnings from Pakistan that such attacks are in violation of international law and could deepen resentment of the United States in the world's second-largest Islamic nation.

Washington has stepped up its strikes on the region since March, when a civilian government took over from General Pervez Musharraf, who turned Pakistan into a close US ally in the "war on terror."

In the latest attack, officials said, two missiles apparently fired from a drone aircraft demolished a house in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's lawless tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.

"Nine foreigners were among ten killed," a top security official told AFP. Pakistan officials normally use the term "foreigners" to describe Al-Qaeda militants.

Another security official said Taliban militants surrounded the area soon after the missile strike late Thursday night and refused ordinary tribesmen access to the site.

Up to 14 militants were killed last Friday in a US missile strike which destroyed an Al-Qaeda training camp in Kumsham village in North Waziristan.

A series of recent strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan's tribal areas, all blamed on unmanned CIA drones, have raised tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

President Asif Ali Zardari warned the new US commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, last week that the attacks were "counterproductive" and could harm the battle for hearts and minds here.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the country's military leadership also told the general that the United States should respect Pakistani sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani is scheduled to make a three-day visit to Brussels from Tuesday for talks with senior NATO officials about US missile strikes on Pakistani soil near the Afghan border.

US and NATO officials say that the rugged tribal regions have become safe havens for militants linked to Taliban and Al-Qaeda who fled the US action against the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Pakistan rejects accusations that it is not doing enough to tackle the extremist threat within its own borders.

The latest strike came as the head of the main US spy agency described the tribal areas of Pakistan as an Al-Qaeda "safe haven" that is linked to every major terrorist threat against the United States.

"Let me be very clear: Today, virtually every major terrorist threat that my agency is aware of has threads back to the tribal areas," Central Intelligence Agency Director General Michael Hayden said in a speech Thursday.

"Whether it's command and control, training, direction, money, capabilities, there is a connection to the FATA (Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas)."

In an annual threat assessment released in February, US intelligence reported it had detected an influx of new western recruits to Al-Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas since 2006.

"Al-Qaeda is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the US -- the identification, training, and positioning of operatives for an attack in the homeland," the report said.

Updated : 2021-10-21 01:34 GMT+08:00