January 23, 2009 / 2:10 PM / 11 years ago

Suspected U.S. strikes in Pakistan, at least 14 dead

(Updates with another missile strike)

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Suspected U.S. drones fired missiles into Pakistan on Friday killing at least 14 people, intelligence officials and residents said, in the first such strikes since Barack Obama became U.S. president.

Frustrated over what it sees as Pakistan’s failure to stem the flow of al Qaeda and Taliban militants from its lawless tribal regions into Afghanistan, the United States stepped up cross-border attacks last year.

There were separate strikes in the northwestern border regions of North and South Waziristan.

In the first attack, three missiles hit a house in a village 2 km (1 mile) west of Mir Ali, a major town in North Waziristan, the officials said.

"Nine bodies have been pulled out the rubble," Ismail Wazir, a villager told Reuters by telephone.

He said the owner of the house, two brothers and three nephews were among the dead while intelligence officials said some foreign militants were also killed.

There was no information on the identify of the foreign militants.

In the second strike, a suspected drone fired a missile into a house near Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, killing five people. Another security official said eight people were killed.

There was no sign the strikes hit any of al Qaeda’s top leadership.

The United States carried out about 30 attacks on suspected militants with missiles fired by pilotless drones in 2008, according to a Reuters tally, more than half after the beginning of September.

The attacks killed more than 220 people, including foreign militants, according to a tally of reports from Pakistani intelligence agents, district government officials and residents.

Pakistan objects to the attacks, saying they are a violation of its territory and undermine its efforts to tackle militants.

It had hoped the new U.S. administration would review the policy although during his election campaign Obama had spoken of the possibility of strikes into Pakistan if the Pakistani military was unwilling or unable to tackle the militants. (Reporting by Alamgir Bitani; Editing by Robert Birsel and Sugita Katyal)

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