- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

MIRAN SHAH, PAKISTAN (AP) - A suicide car bomber attacked a security checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, wounding at least three soldiers in a volatile area near the Afghan border where a suspected U.S. drone missile strike killed 13 people, officials said.

The attacker rammed his vehicle into a checkpoint at the entrance of army headquarters in North Waziristan and detonated his explosives, said Mohammad Azhar, a local government official.

The attack wounded three soldiers, according to a military official who said troops disrupted the attack in the town of Miran Shah by opening fire on the vehicle, causing it to explode before it reached the checkpoint. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The discrepancy between the two accounts could not immediately be explained.

North Waziristan is believed to be an important base for al-Qaida and Taliban militants who have been staging cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles at an alleged militant hide-out Saturday in North Waziristan, killing 13 people, intelligence officials and residents said.

The U.S. is suspected of carrying out more than three dozen such strikes over the past year in Pakistan near the Afghan border. The drone attacks have caused tension with the Pakistani government, which frequently complains about the U.S. carrying out strikes in its territory.

The dead and injured included local and foreign militants, but women and children were also killed in the attack, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

A local tribal elder, Dilawar Khan, confirmed that 13 people were killed in the strike, saying the owner’s family was among the dead. He said he did not know the identities of the other people killed or whether there were militants staying at the home, in Data Khel village very close to the Afghan border.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

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