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Nine Dead In Suspected U.S. Strikes In Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) -- A suspected U.S. drone fired three missiles into Pakistan's North Waziristan region, killing nine people, intelligence officials and residents said, in the first such strike since Barack Obama became U.S. president.

Frustrated over what it sees as Pakistan's failure to stem the flow of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants from its lawless tribal regions into Afghanistan, the United States stepped up crossborder attacks last year.

The missiles hit a house in a village 2 kilometers west of Mir Ali, a major town of the region on the Afghan border, the officials said.

"Nine bodies have been pulled out the rubble," Ismail Wazir, a villager told Reuters by telephone.

He said the owner of the house, two brothers, and three nephews were among the dead while intelligence officials said some foreign militants were also killed.

There was no information on the identify of the foreign militants.

The United States carried out about 30 attacks on suspected militants with missiles fired by pilotless drones in 2008, according to a Reuters tally, more than half after the beginning of September.

The attacks killed more than 220 people, including foreign militants, according to a tally of reports from Pakistani intelligence agents, district government officials, and residents.

Pakistan objects to the attacks, saying they are a violation of its territory and undermine its efforts to tackle militants.

It had hoped the new U.S. administration would review the policy, although during his election campaign Obama had spoken of the possibility of strikes into Pakistan if the Pakistani military was unwilling or unable to tackle them.