Islamabad: A US drone fired a missile into a suspected militant hide-out in Pakistan's lawless northwest, killing 12 people in the stronghold of a jihadist commander accused of attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.
The United States is suspected of having launched more than 40 missile strikes from unmanned planes on Al Qaida and Taliban targets close to the Afghan border since last year, reportedly killing several top commanders, but also civilians. Earlier this month, one such strike is believed to have killed the Pakistani Taliban chief, Baitullah Mehsud.
Friday's attack was on a housing compound in Dande Darpa Khel, a village less than a mile west of Miran Shah in North Waziristan, three intelligence officers said condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Eleven people were killed, some of whom were Afghans, two of the officers said.
Authorities stepped up security in the region following the attack, and the officials said they were working to get more details about the victims.
Dande Darpa Khel and surrounding areas are strongholds of Afghan Taliban leader Siraj Haqqani, whose network is powerful in eastern Afghanistan. He has a large Islamic school in the village that was hit by a suspected US missile in October 2008, killing about 20 people.
Siraj is the son of senior Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran of the fight against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, who American commanders now count as a dangerous foe. Haqqani is alleged to have close connections to Al Qaida and to have helped funnel foreign fighters into Afghanistan.