Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Pakistan drone attack kills eight suspected militants

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

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

The aircraft fired two missiles near Mir Ali town in North Waziristan district, close to the Afghan border.

North and South Waziristan are a major sanctuary for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Hundreds of people, many of them civilians, have been killed in drone attacks in the past year. Top Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was among them.

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

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

The latest drone attack took place in the Machikhel area near the town of Mir Ali, officials said.

The drone targeted a compound believed to be occupied by Taliban militants, they said.

Reports say the Taliban have cordoned off the area and stopped traffic.

This is the second drone attack in the area - four suspected militants were killed in a similar attack here on Wednesday night.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that reports from South Waziristan say militants fleeing an ongoing military operation there are crossing into the Mir Ali area and further north into Orakzai.

Pakistan's military last month launched a massive offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan.

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