Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 10:29 UK

'Deadly air strike' in Pakistan

Tribal areas map

A suspected US missile strike in north-west Pakistan, the second drone attack in four days, has killed 13 people.

Local officials in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, said the dead included women and children as well as militants - some of them foreigners.

But a Taleban spokesman denied this, saying all those killed were civilians.

The US military does not routinely confirm drone attacks, but US forces in Afghanistan are believed to be the only ones in the region with the capability.

Pakistan is critical of drone use because, it says, civilians are often killed, fuelling support for militants.

Retaliation threatened

Local administration officials say the missiles destroyed part of a house owned by a school teacher in a village near the region's main town of Miranshah.

A number of foreign militants were among those killed in the strike at 0300 local (2200 Friday), security officials said.

But a Taleban spokesman said all the dead were civilians.

US drone (archive image)
Dozens of suspected drone strikes have killed hundreds in recent months

The spokesman said the Taleban held Pakistan responsible for the strike, adding that it should be ready for retaliation.

The latest incident comes only three days after a missile fired by a suspected US drone killed at least 14 people in Pakistan's Orakzai tribal area, near the Afghan border.

Correspondents say that more than 35 suspected drone strikes have killed more than 340 people since August 2008, shortly before the election of President Asif Ali Zardari.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to make the war against the Taleban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan a foreign policy priority.

Most missile strikes by drones have targeted foreign fighters in the Waziristan region over the past couple of years.

The drone attacks are said to be part of a new US strategy to eliminate the Taleban and al-Qaeda leadership who are reportedly operating from Pakistan's tribal region next to the border with Afghanistan, says the BBC's Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad.

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