U.S. drone strike kills 25 in Pakistan's North Waziristan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:43am EDT

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Two U.S. pilotless aircraft fired four missiles into a house in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Friday killing 25 militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The strike came two days after a visit to Islamabad by Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military official, in which he expressed concern over links between Pakistani security agents and militants attacking U.S.-led forces across the border in Afghanistan.

The drone strike happened in Mir Ali town, about 35 km (20 miles) east of the region's main town of Miranshah.

A Pakistani intelligence official in the region who declined to be identified said the house was being used as a militant hideout.

"They have surrounded the area and are not allowing anybody to go there," the intelligence official said, referring to militants.

Twenty-five bodies had been recovered from the rubble and three women were among those killed, he said.

Another official said some foreign militants were among the dead but their numbers and nationalities could not confirmed.

North Waziristan is a known sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

The United States has been using drone attacks to target militants over the past few years in Pakistan's lawless ethnic Pashtun border areas.

The attacks are a source of concern for the Pakistani government, which says civilian casualties stoke public anger and bolster support for militancy.

During Mullen's visit, a U.S. official said the United States would not stop the drone attacks in Pakistan, despite Pakistani objections.

Earlier, militants attacked a security post in the northwestern town of Dir killing 10 soldiers, security officials in the region said.

About 30 soldiers were manning the post when militants attacked on Thursday, they said. Fighting went on for several hours.

Security forces have been battling Pakistani Taliban militants in several parts of the northwest over recent years. The militants want to destabilize the U.S. ally and impose harsh Islamic rule.

In 2009, the military cleared militants from Dir and the neighboring Swat Valley in a successful offensive.

(Additional reporting by Junaid Khan in Mingora; Writing by Kamran Haider; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Robert Birsel)