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Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 14:42 UK

'Militants die in drone attack'

US drone
Hundreds have been killed in drone attacks in the past year

At least four suspected militants have been killed in a US drone attack in north-west Pakistan, officials say.

A militant hideout was targeted in the South Waziristan tribal region, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

A similar attack in the same region in early August killed Pakistan's top Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Hundreds of militants and civilians have been killed in dozens of drone attacks in the past year, chiefly in North and South Waziristan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has said recent army successes in Swat, Waziristan and elsewhere mean the back of the insurgency has been broken.

In a BBC interview, Mr Malik also said Pakistani intelligence reports suggested that many foreign al-Qaeda fighters were now leaving Pakistan for Somalia; others were returning to their home countries in Sudan and Yemen.

Correspondents say Pakistan's military has made significant advances, but there is still a long way to go before the Taliban and al-Qaeda can be described as being defeated.

The latest attack took place in the Tapar Ghai area in the Kanigram district in South Waziristan. The area is a remote and mountainous part of the region, out of the reach of the local authorities.

Local residents told BBC Urdu that the target was a house occupied by militants.

It was not immediately clear if the strike targeted a particular Taliban leader, officials said.

But the house was said to be close to an area where Pakistan's security forces clashed with militants loyal to Baitullah Mehsud on Wednesday evening.

"I saw drones flying over the area and then there were two huge explosions," resident Mohamad Omar told the Reuters news agency.

Pakistan has criticised drone attacks, saying they fuel support for the militants.

The US military does not routinely confirm drone attacks but the armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are believed to be the only forces capable of deploying drones in the region.

On Tuesday two senior Taliban commanders confirmed that their leader, Baitullah Mehsud ,had died of injuries sustained in a US missile strike on 5 August.

The confirmation came after weeks of intense speculation about the fate of the Taliban leader following the attack.

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