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Page last updated at 20:04 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Deadly missiles strike Pakistan

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Two missile attacks from suspected US drones have killed 14 people in north-western Pakistan, officials say.

At least one missile hit a house in a village near the town of Mirali in North Waziristan, a stronghold of al-Qaeda and Taleban militants.

A second suspected drone attack has been reported in South Waziristan, killing five people.

Pakistan has long argued that such strikes are counter-productive and are a violation of its sovereignty.

These are the first drone attacks since Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president on Tuesday.

Pakistani leaders had expressed hope that the new US administration would halt the controversial air strikes, saying they fuelled public anger and complicated Pakistan's own counter-insurgency efforts.

Meanwhile, two security personnel were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a military checkpoint in the Fizzagat area of the Swat Valley in north-western Pakistan.

Swat plays host to frequent battles between the Pakistani army and Islamic militants trying to enforce a strict form of Islamic law set down by Mullah Fazlullah, a radical cleric.

'Militants killed'

The first drone attack struck a house owned by a man called Khalil Khan in the village of Zeerakai at 1700 local time.

Four Arab militants were killed in the strikes, officials said. Their identities were not immediately clear but officials said one was a senior al-Qaeda operative.

The second attack was aimed at the house of a Taleban commander about 10km (six miles) from the town of Wanna, local reports said.

But officials told the BBC that the drone actually hit the house of a pro-government tribal leader, killing him and four members of his family, including a five-year-old child.

More than 20 attacks have been carried out from drones on targets in north-western Pakistan in recent months, sparking protests from Pakistan's government.

On Thursday, President Obama appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, having promised that his administration would continue to tackle the threats posed by extremists in both countries.

Earlier on Friday, a roadside bomb exploded on the outskirts of Mingora town as a security patrol was passing.

Eyewitnesses said the security forces opened fire and killed three passers-by, but the security forces denied being responsible for the deaths.

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