U.S. drone attack kills at least six in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan Sat May 22, 2010 12:50am EDT

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MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - At least six people have been killed in a U.S. drone missile attack in Pakistan's North Waziristan, a major al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary, Pakistani intelligence officials said on Saturday.

The missiles struck a house around midnight in a village about 25 km (15 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, the officials said.

"U.S. drone aircraft fired five missiles at a house owned by a tribesman identified as Khayli, killing six militants," said one intelligence official who declined to be identified.

But residents in the area said 12 people, including four women and two children, were killed. They said those killed were not militants and were from the same family.

Six women and two children were also wounded in the attack and being treated at a hospital in Miranshah, one witness said.

The United States has stepped up missile strikes in Pakistan's northwestern region since a Jordanian suicide bomber killed seven U.S. Central Intelligence Agency employees at a U.S. base across the border in Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost in late December.

Most of the attacks this year have been in North Waziristan.

U.S. ally Pakistan officially objects to the drone strikes, saying they are a violation of its sovereignty and fuel anti-U.S. feeling, which complicates Pakistan's efforts against militancy.

It was the fifth drone missile strike in northwest Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, since a failed bid to set off a car bomb in New York's Times Square on May 1.

The United States is convinced Pakistan Taliban militants allied with al Qaeda and operating out of northwestern border regions were behind the attempted New York bombing.

U.S. authorities say a Pakistani-American, Faisal Shahzad, has admitted to the failed Times Square bomb attack and has been cooperating with investigators since his arrest on May 3.

Pakistan security officials said on Friday that at least four people suspected of links with a failed bid had been detained in the country.

(Writing by Augustine Anthony; Editing by Michael Georgy and Jerry Norton)

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