DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) - Unmanned U.S. aircraft fired missiles at houses in two different parts of northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 12 militants in attacks that occurred hours apart, intelligence officials said.
The U.S. has launched more than 100 missile strikes in Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal area along the Afghan border over the past several years. Most of them have targeted militants in North and South Waziristan, important sanctuaries for Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters.
The first strike Sunday took place around midday when aircraft fired four missiles at a house in Shaktoi, a village along the border of North and South Waziristan, killing five suspected militants, intelligence officials said. The attack, which actually occurred in South Waziristan, also wounded four suspected militants, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Later Sunday, two missiles hit a house in Taipi village near Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, killing seven suspected militants, said the officials.
The strikes came a day after U.S. missiles targeting a compound in the Nazai Narai area of South Waziristan killed 16 suspected militants. The hide-out was known to be frequented by foreign fighters who were among the dead, intelligence officials said.
The U.S. refuses to publicly acknowledge the covert CIA-run drone program in Pakistan, but officials have said privately that it has killed several senior Taliban and al-Qaida figures.
One of the reasons the U.S. has relied so heavily on the missile strikes is that it has been unable to convince the Pakistani military to target Afghan Taliban fighters in North Waziristan who regularly launch cross-border attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Many analysts believe Pakistan's reluctance is driven by the military's belief that the Taliban could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.
Pakistan publicly condemns the U.S. missile strikes, but it has secretly helped Washington in previous attacks.
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