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Missile From U.S. Drone Kills 13 In Pakistan

PESHAWAR (Reuters) -- A pilotless U.S. drone aircraft has fired a missile in northwest Pakistan, killing 13 people including some foreign militants, security officials and residents said.

Hours after the April 4 incident, Pakistani Taliban militant leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed responsibility for a shooting at a U.S. immigration center in New York in which a gunman killed 13 people, saying it was revenge for U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan.

U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment about Mehsud's claim, but Pakistani security analysts dismissed it as a publicity stunt.

"The New York Times" quoted representative Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes the town of Binghamton in New York state where the shooting took place, as saying indications were the gunman was an immigrant from Vietnam.

With the Afghan insurgency intensifying, the United States began launching more drone strikes against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on the Pakistani side of the border last year.

Since then, about 35 U.S. strikes have killed about 350 people, including mid-level al Qaeda members, according to reports from Pakistani officials, residents and militants.

The April 5 attack was in the North Waziristan region, a stronghold of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on the Afghan border, about 35 kilometers west of the region's main town of Miranshah at about 3 a.m. local time.

"The missile hit a house where some guests were staying," one intelligence agency official said, referring to foreign militants. "We have information that 13 people were killed, including some guests."

Later, a suicide bomber was killed as he approached a military convoy. His explosives went off, killing three passersby, witnesses and a hospital official said.

Nuclear-armed, U.S. ally Pakistan objects to the missile strikes, saying they are a violation of its sovereignty and are counter-productive.

Officials say about one in six of the strikes over the past year caused civilian deaths without killing any militants, and that fuels anti-U.S. sentiment, complicating the military's struggle to subdue violence.

The concentration of strikes in Waziristan was also pushing some militants eastwards, deeper into Pakistan, they say.