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Suspected U.S. drone kills 3 in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A suspected U.S. drone attack killed three people in a compound known to house militants in Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, local officials and residents said Sunday.

The strike, in the town of Gangi Khel, South Waziristan province, also left five people wounded.

South Waziristan, is part of Pakistan's tribal region, which has seen a sharp spike in the number of aerial attacks carried out by unmanned U.S. drones on what are believed to be Taliban targets.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan routinely offers no comment on reported cross-border strikes. However, the United States is the only country operating in the region known to have the capability to launch missiles from drones.

On Janary 1 this year a U.S. drone missile strike killed al Qaeda's Pakistan operations director Usama al Kini -- the suspected mastermind of a September 20 suicide bombing at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad that killed 53 people.

Pakistan's government has repeatedly complained about the strikes because of rising numbers in civilian casualties. It says the attacks cost lives and undermine public support for its counter-terrorism efforts.

In October, Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to lodge a protest after a missile strike from a suspected U.S. drone killed 20 people in South Waziristan.

Taliban militants have vowed to carry out suicide attacks in retaliation for the strikes.

On Saturday, a suicide bomber rammed a car into a convoy of Pakistani security forces at a military checkpoint near the town of Hangu in the North West Frontier Province. The province borders Afghanistan and has been the site of recent clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants.

Pakistani police say 28 people were killed in the attack and about 30 wounded. Most of the casualties were soldiers and police.

"We carried out the suicide attack and we will do more until U.S. drone attacks stop in the tribal areas," said Taliban commander, Maulvi Hakimullah Mehsud, claiming responsibility.

CNN's Ivan Watson contributed to this story.

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