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Five Militants Killed In Suspected U.S. Drone Strike In Waziristan

A tribesman watches a military strike in North Waziristan (file photo)
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired two missiles at a Taliban commander's house in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, killing five militants, intelligence officials said.

The strike on September 29 took place about 60 kilometers northeast of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, the Pakistani officials said. South Waziristan is on the Afghan border and a sanctuary for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

"The house of the commander has been completely destroyed and five dead bodies, three Pakistanis and two Uzbeks, have been recovered," one of the intelligence officials, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

He identified the commander as Irfan Mehsud.

Residents said six militants were wounded and that Pakistani Taliban fighters had cordoned off the area and were not letting people approach.

The United States stepped up its attacks by pilotless drones on militants in northwestern Pakistani border sanctuaries last year as the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan intensified.

There have been nearly 60 such strikes since the beginning of 2008, including one in early August that killed Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

About 500 people, most of them militants, have been killed in the strikes since early last year, according to a tally of reports from Pakistani security officials and residents.

Pakistan officially objects to the drone strikes, saying they violate its sovereignty and the civilian casualties they sometimes inflame public anger.

U.S. officials say the strikes are carried out under an agreement with Islamabad that allows Pakistani leaders to decry the attacks in public.

Late on September 28, a drone fired a missile at the house of a Taliban supporter in the North Waziristan region, which is also on the Afghan border, but it missed and caused no casualties, Pakistani security agents in the region said.