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8 killed in drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region

From Nasir Habib, for CNN
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Thu May 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The drone attack is the second in 24 hours in Pakistan
  • Pakistani lawmakers have called for an immediate end to the strikes
  • The Obama administration says it conducts them in accordance with the law

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles at a militant hideout in Pakistan's tribal region on Thursday, killing eight people, a senior local official said.

The attack took place in the area of Hesokhel in North Waziristan, one of the seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan, said Muhammad Amin, the top government official in North Waziristan.

The drone strike was the second in Pakistan in 24 hours and follows the NATO conference in Chicago about Afghanistan's future. At least four militants were killed Wednesday after a suspected U.S. drone strike on a compound in the Datakhel area of North Waziristan, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan were one of the key themes underlying the Chicago meeting, which both President Barack Obama and Pakistani President Ali AsAsif Ali Zardari attended.

Ties between the two countries were severely strained by NATO airstrikes in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the country's border with Afghanistan.

There was a sharp drop in the number of drone attacks in Pakistan following the fateful airstrikes. But the drone attacks appear to have picked up in recent weeks.

Pakistani lawmakers have called for an immediate end to the drone strikes, which have drawn denunciations for killing civilians.

The Obama administration publicly justified its use of unmanned drones to target suspected terrorists overseas for the first time last month, with John Brennan, the president's top counterrorism adviser, saying the strikes are conducted "in full accordance with the law."

The program utilizes unmanned aerial vehicles, often equipped with Hellfire missiles, to target al Qaeda operatives in remote locations overseas -- often on the territory of U.S. allies such as Pakistan and Yemen. Brennan said the United States "respects national sovereignty and international law" and is guided by the laws of war in ordering those attacks.

Journalist Aamir Iqbal in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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