Suspected U.S. Missile Strike Kills 6 in Pakistan

January 7, 2011 - 6:49 AM

Peshawar, Pakistan (AP) - A suspected U.S. drone fired four missiles at a vehicle in a lawless area of northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border Friday, killing six alleged militants, intelligence officials said.

The U.S. has dramatically stepped up such attacks in the past year in an attempt to kill Taliban militants who use Pakistani territory to launch attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Many of the strikes, including the assault Friday, have taken place in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal area that is almost entirely dominated by a variety of militant groups. The U.S. has pushed Pakistan to launch a military offensive in the area, but the government has resisted.

The identities and nationalities of the suspected militants killed in the attack were not known, the intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The area in the town of Datta Khel that was hit is dominated by fighters loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a prominent militant commander focused on battling foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The U.S. wants Pakistan to target Bahadur and other militants in North Waziristan, but many analysts think the government is reluctant to go after fighters who haven't set their sights on attacking the Pakistani state. Some of the militant groups also have historical ties to Pakistani security forces and could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.

Given Pakistan's reluctance, the Obama administration has stepped up its reliance on drone strikes. The U.S. refuses to discuss the attacks in public, but many officials have said privately that they have killed senior Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

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Associated Press writer Riaz Khan contributed to this report.