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Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 12:03 UK

Drone targets militant stronghold

US drone
There have been frequent drone attacks in recent months

At least 12 people have been killed and five injured in a suspected US drone attack in north-west Pakistan, district officials say.

They said the attack targeted the stronghold of the high-profile Tailban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, in the North Waziristan tribal area.

His group has been blamed for many attacks in Afghanistan.

The strike came as the US Senate voted to triple aid to Pakistan to about $1.5bn (£930m) a year over five years.

The funding still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives.

Officials in Miranshah, the administrative centre of the North Waziristan tribal area, told BBC that the dead and injured are believed to be Taliban militants from Afghanistan.

They said that they were activists linked to Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose base is in the Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan.

Thursday's drone attack came hours after seven pro-government tribal elders were killed by the Taliban in Pakistan's north-west.

Hundreds of militants and civilians have been killed in dozens of drone attacks in the past year.

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

One such attack in South Waziristan in early August killed Pakistan's top Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud.

Most of the strikes have taken place in North and South Waziristan.

The US military does not routinely confirm the attacks, but the American armed forces and CIA in Afghanistan are the only forces capable of deploying drones in the region, say analysts.

At a meeting in New York of major supporters of Pakistan on Thursday, US President Barack Obama said the US was "firmly committed to the future that the Pakistani people deserve".

The US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said the aid commitment approved by the Senate could help redress anti-American sentiment.

"We recognize that Pakistani public opinion on the United States is surprisingly low given the tremendous effort the United States is making to lead in the international coalition in support of Pakistan," Mr Holbrooke said.

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