- Associated Press - Sunday, September 12, 2010

MIR ALI, Pakistan (AP) — A suspected U.S. missile strike Sunday killed at least five associates of a warlord who is fighting Western troops in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

Powerful militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur struck a truce with the Pakistani military and agreed to stay on the sidelines last year as it waged an offensive in the South Waziristan tribal area against the Pakistani Taliban, a group dedicated to attacking the Pakistani state, among other targets.

Mr. Bahadur focused instead on battling U.S. and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.

Two Pakistan intelligence officials told the Associated Press that two missiles targeted a home in the village of Datta Khel in the North Waziristan tribal area where Mr. Bahadur’s associates were believed to be staying. They said five people were killed and three were believed to be wounded.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

A steady series of suspected U.S. missile attacks have occurred in North Waziristan, a lawless region home to al Qaeda leaders plotting attacks in the West, insurgents battling foreign troops in Afghanistan and extremists responsible for bombings in Pakistan.

Four airstrikes pounded the area over 24 hours this past week, the last killing five suspected militants early Thursday, officials said.

There were at least four other attacks earlier in the week.

Most are believed to be fired from unmanned, remote-controlled planes that can hover for hours above the area.

Pakistan has condemned the American missile strikes as violations of its sovereignty, warning the civilian casualties they cause deepen anti-U.S. sentiment and complicate the fight against terrorism.

Many suspect, however, the two countries have a deal allowing the drone-fired attacks.