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Pakistani officials: Suspected U.S. drone strike kills 9 militants

By Reza Sayah, CNN
updated 1:08 AM EDT, Sat May 5, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Those killed are Pakistan Taliban members, an official says
  • The strike occurred in Shawal mountain region of North Waziristan, security officials say
  • The drone fired two missiles at the compound, security officials say

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A suspected U.S. drone strike killed nine people Saturday in an attack that targeted a militant compound in Pakistan's volatile tribal region, authorities said.

The casualties are believed to be members of the Pakistan Taliban, said Muhammad Amin, a senior government official from the region.

A drone fired two missiles at a compound in the Shawal mountain region of North Waziristan, according to two Pakistani security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to the media.

North Waziristan, one of seven tribal regions along the Afghan border, is widely believed to be a haven for militant groups and has been a repeated target of drone strikes.

There has been a sharp drop in the number of drone attacks in Pakistan since a November NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the country's border with Afghanistan, driving U.S.- Pakistan relations to a low point.

U.S. officials rarely discuss the CIA's drone program in Pakistan, though privately they have said the covert strikes are legal and an effective tactic in the fight against extremists.

President Barack Obama has defended the use of drone attacks, saying a "pinpoint strike" is "less intrusive" on other countries' sovereignty than other military ways to target al Qaeda.

It is the second reported drone strike since Pakistani lawmakers approved a list of recommendations that includes a call for an immediate end to U.S. drone attacks.

American and Pakistani officials met in April to discuss relations between the two nations in the first in-depth talks since Pakistan's parliament rolled out a set of new guidelines for its relations with the United States, in which it agreed to re-engage with Washington after months of tension.

The list of parliamentary recommendations, approved by lawmakers, said that future relations with the United States should be based on mutual interest, and that no overt or covert operations -- including private security companies or operatives -- will be allowed on Pakistani soil.

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