Thursday, October 9, 2008

A suspected U.S. missile strike targeted two areas in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border Thursday, killing at least nine people, intelligence officials said.

The strikes appeared to be part of a surge in U.S. cross border assaults on alleged militant targets in Pakistan, which have strained ties between the two anti-terror allies.

Two local Pakistani intelligence officials, citing reports from informants and agents, said one strike occurred at a house in Tappi village in North Waziristan tribal region. Some of those killed were believed to be foreigners.

A local tribesman, Shoaib Dawar, said Taliban militants surrounded the house.

A second strike was reported at a house in the village of Dande Darpa Khel.

The site was near a seminary of veteran Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, considered an archenemy of the U.S. No casualties were immediately reported from the latter strike.

The intelligence officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

North Waziristan is part of Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda and Taliban militants have used Pakistan’s tribal areas as bases from which to attack U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, spurring U.S. frustration with Pakistan. The tribal regions also are considered potential hiding places for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.

Pakistani officials have protested that such strikes violate the nation’s sovereignty. The U.S. rarely acknowledges such missile strikes, some of which are believed to be carried out by the CIA.

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