Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

'US strikes' on Pakistan villages

Damage from a previous attack in North Waziristan
Previous attacks in North Waziristan left a lot of damage behind

More than 20 people have been killed in two suspected US missile attacks in northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, security officials said.

About 15, including an al-Qaeda leader, were killed in an attack near the village of Mirali, North Waziristan.

In a second attack, seven people were killed in South Waziristan.

The US military has not commented. It has launched many missile strikes from Afghanistan against suspected militant targets recently.

Officials named the al-Qaeda leader in Mirali as Abu Akash, believed to be Iraqi.

Local officials told the BBC that at 2030 (1430 GMT), a drone fired two missiles and destroyed the target - a house in the Esori area about 30km from the town of Mirali.


They confirmed that Abu Akash was inside the building when the attack took place.

Abu Akash was a well-known militant in the region and had been living in the area near Mir Ali since coming from Afghanistan in 2002.

He was believed to have gone to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviets in the late 1980s, or during the time of the Taleban in the mid-1990s.

Abu Akash, who was born in Iraq, came to notoriety last year when he issued a video that called for attacks against coalition forces in their territories, says the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hassan.

He was also said to have recently broken away from the main al-Qaeda entity and formed his own group.

Border tension

Tensions between the US and Pakistan have increased over the issue of cross-border incursions against militants by American forces based in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said it had voiced its concern to the US envoy in Islamabad on Wednesday.

"It was underscored to the ambassador that the government of Pakistan strongly condemns the missile attacks which resulted in the loss of precious lives and property," the ministry said in a statement.

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