Drone attack kills 17 in Pakistan's Waziristan region

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Wed Jul 3, 2013 2:08am EDT

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A U.S. drone strike killed at least 17 people in Pakistan's restive border region early on Wednesday, Pakistani security officials said, in the biggest such attack this year, and the second since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office.

Most of those killed were fighters for the Haqqani network, according to three Taliban commanders and security officials.

Two missiles hit a house near the main market in Miranshah, the provincial capital of the tribal region of North Waziristan. The region is considered a Taliban stronghold.

Many were wounded in the attack, local tribesman Kaleemullah Dawar said, but rescuers delayed for fear of falling victim to a second attack, a common tactic with drone strikes.

"It was not possible for the people to start rescue work for some time, as the drones were still flying over the area," Dawar said.

Sharif, who won elections in May, has called for an immediate end to U.S. drone strikes on the grounds that they are a breach of Pakistan's sovereignty. The U.S. says it is attacking militants in areas the Pakistani army cannot reach.

A drone strike in May killed the Pakistani Taliban's second-in-command and six others.

(Writing by Syed Hassan; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Clarence Fernandez)

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