- Associated Press - Saturday, August 21, 2010

MIR ALI, Pakistan (AP) — Suspected U.S. missiles fired from an unmanned drone killed six militants Saturday in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said.

Missiles struck two vehicles in Anghar Kala village near Miran Shah in North Waziristan — the second such attack since massive floods hit Pakistan in late July. The officials said some of the dead militants may be foreigners.

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

The tribal region is a haven for various Islamist militant groups. The main organization operating there is the Haqqani network, which focuses on attacking U.S. and NATO troops across border in Afghanistan.


Pakistan’s leadership has raised concerns the insurgents might exploit instability and chaos caused by the massive flooding, the country’s worst-ever natural disaster. The U.S. has tried to improve its public image in Pakistan by sending significant flood aid, though Saturday’s airstrike shows it is not willing to abandon the widely unpopular drone attacks.

The U.S. rarely discusses the covert, CIA-run missile campaign, but officials have said in the past it has proven a valuable tool in the battle against al-Qaida and Taliban fighters sheltering in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistani officials publicly condemn the airstrikes, but it is believed they have given tacit approval.

Separately, a bomb exploded at a checkpoint jointly manned by pro-government tribesmen and police in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing six people, government official Javed Khan said.

The attack happened in Mohmand, a tribal region 45 miles (75 kilometers) northwest of the main city of Peshawar. The dead included a policeman, a passer-by and four members of a peace committee set up to check militant movements, he said.

___

Associated Press writer Riaz Khan in Peshawar contributed to this report.