- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two suspected U.S. drone missile strikes killed at least 12 people Wednesday in an area of Pakistan’s volatile northwest teeming with militants suspected in a recent suicide attack that killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

The lawless North Waziristan tribal area hit Wednesday is home to several militant groups that stage cross-border attacks against coalition troops, including the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network. Counting the latest strikes, suspected U.S. drones have attacked North Waziristan four times since the CIA bombing a week ago, killing at least 20 people.

The Obama administration has pressed Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqani network, but the government has resisted, saying it has its hands full battling local Taliban militants waging war against the state. In response, Washington has stepped up drone strikes in the country’s tribal area near the Afghan border.

In the first attack Wednesday, a suspected drone fired two missiles at a house in the Datta Khel region of North Waziristan, killing seven people, said the intelligence officials.

A second strike occurred as locals were retrieving bodies from the rubble of the house, killing five people, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The identities of those killed in the attacks were unknown.

The Americans “have concluded that the Haqqani network is causing major problems in eastern Afghanistan and they seem determined to hit the network, so we should expect more frequent attacks in North Waziristan,” said Mahmood Shah, former security chief for Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal area.

U.S. officials rarely discuss the missile strikes, and although Pakistan’s government publicly condemns them as violations of its sovereignty, many analysts believe the two countries have a secret deal allowing them.

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