PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Two suspected U.S. drone aircraft killed 12 militants, including foreigners, in missile strikes Tuesday in Pakistan’s Waziristan region on the Afghan border, intelligence officials and residents said.
The latest missile strike was the third in northwest Pakistan in less than 24 hours and came as the U.S. administration was weighing options for how to deal with an intensifying Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.
Northwestern ethnic Pashtun tribal lands on the Afghan border, including North and South Waziristan, are sanctuaries for al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
Tuesday evening, a pilotless drone aircraft fired a missile at the house of an Afghan militant, who Pakistani intelligence officials said was linked to Afghan Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, in the North Waziristan region.
“It was an accurate strike. Seven bodies have been recovered from the debris. Most of them were Afghan militants,” said a Pakistani intelligence official in the region, who declined to be identified.
He said six militants were wounded and militants had sealed off the area and were not letting anybody approach.
Hours earlier, two missiles fired by another drone aircraft struck a Pakistani Taliban commander’s house in South Waziristan, killing three Pakistanis and two Uzbeks militants, another intelligence official said.
Late Monday, a drone fired a missile at the house of a Taliban supporter in the North Waziristan but it missed and caused no casualties, Pakistani security agents in the region said.
The United States stepped up its attacks by pilotless drones on militants in northwestern Pakistani border sanctuaries last year as the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan intensified.
There have been nearly 60 such strikes since the beginning of 2008, including one in early August that killed Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
About 500 people, most of them militants, have been killed in the strikes since early last year, according to a tally of reports from Pakistani security officials and residents.
Pakistan officially objects to the drone strikes, saying they violate its sovereignty and the civilian casualties they sometimes inflict inflame public anger.
U.S. officials say the strikes are carried out under an agreement with Islamabad that allows Pakistani leaders to decry the attacks in public.
U.S. President Barack Obama is considering a request from the U.S. commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan for more U.S. troops to deal with an intensifying insurgency there.
The commander, General Stanley McChrystal, said in an assessment leaked to the media last week the Afghan insurgency was supported from Pakistan and Afghanistan needed Pakistani action.