U.S. missile attack kills at least 6 in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan Thu Oct 9, 2008 1:38pm EDT

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - A U.S. missile attack by a pilotless drone killed at least six people on Thursday, including 3 Arabs, in a Pakistani tribal region regarded as a safe haven for al Qaeda and Taliban militants, an intelligence official said.

The target was a house in Tappi, a village 20 km east of Miranshah that has been hit before in recent days, according to an intelligence official in the region.

The official identified the owner of the house as Faisal Mohammad Sultan, a tribesman sympathetic to the militants cause.

"He was entertaining guests," the official said.

At least six people had been killed, including three Arabs, according to the official.

A military spokesman said he was unable give official confirmation of the attack.

A Reuters journalist saw and heard the explosion from the rooftop terrace of his house in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, shortly after 10:00 p.m. (1600 GMT).

"It was huge blast," he said. "The drone is still flying in the area. It fired a missile and I saw the flame coming out of it."

Since the start of September the United States has carried out at least nine missile attacks, including this one, and a commando raid on militant targets in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Pakistan has protested against the U.S. intrusions, particularly after the use of ground troops for the first time on September 3, and the issue has strained relations between the allies in the war on terrorism.

(Reporting by Haji Mujtaba, writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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