Suspected US missile strike kills 12 in Pakistan (Lead)

May 16th, 2009 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 16 (DPA) A US missile strike Saturday on a suspected hideout of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan killed at least 12 people, intelligence officials said.
Two Hellfire guided missiles were reportedly fired by an unmanned aircraft and struck an Islamic seminary and a vehicle parked nearby in the Mir Ali area of the North Waziristan district.

“According to the reports we received from the locals, 12 people have been killed and six are injured in the attack,” one intelligence official in the area said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least three “foreigners” were among those killed. The term is usually used to refer to Al Qaeda-linked militants from Arab and Central Asian countries.

Taliban fighters cordoned off the area following the blast. The death toll is feared to rise as most of the injured were said to be in critical condition.

The bombing came four days after a similar raid killed eight people in neighbouring South Waziristan, which also is home to sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

The US has stepped up its drone attacks in Pakistan’s north-western tribal region in recent months. More than three dozen such strikes since August have killed more than 350 people, including several non-combatants.

Officially, Islamabad opposes the drone strikes, saying they are counterproductive in the fight against terrorism by causing public anger against the US and Pakistani governments.

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