March 27, 2010 / 6:50 PM / in 9 years

U.S. missile strike kills four in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A U.S. missile strike in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border killed four people in a suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban hideout on Saturday, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

One of the two missiles fired by a pilotless drone aircraft hit a village house used by militants as a hideout, killing four people and wounding five others, officials said.

The identities of the people killed could not be ascertained. A second missile landed in a nearby field.

The strike took place near Mir Ali, the second major town of North Waziristan and a safe-haven for fighters loyal to Pakistani militant commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is allied with al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.

“The militants have cordoned off the area and no one is allowed to go there,” an intelligence official said by telephone from North Waziristan.

The United States has stepped up the intensity of its unmanned aerial drone attacks in North Waziristan since a suicide bomber killed seven CIA agents on December 30 in a U.S. compound in the eastern Afghan province of Khost.

U.S. officials say the pilotless drones are one of the most effective weapons against militants. The strikes have killed senior Taliban and al Qaeda figures but Pakistan officially opposes the drone attacks and says they undermine its efforts against militants.

Reporting by Alamgir Bitani and Zeeshan Haider, editing by Paul Casciato

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