Suspected US missiles killed 22 people on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border on Friday,security officials said on Saturday. These are the first attacks on the al-Qaeda stronghold since Barack Obama took office as US President.
Eight suspected foreign militants were among the dead. A senior security official said Pakistani authorities were trying to determine the seniority of an Egyptian al-Qaeda militant believed to have been killed.
Fridays attacks were the first since the inauguration of President Barack Obama,and suggest that he will allow US forces to continue targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives inside Pakistans lawless tribal belt.
Pakistani leaders complain that the stepped-up missile strikes more than 30 since August violate the countrys sovereignty and undermine the Governments own efforts to tackle rising Islamist violence at home.
The officials,citing reports from field agents and residents,said Taliban fighters had earlier removed the bodies of five suspected foreign militants who also died in the first missile strike Friday. Initial reports put the death toll from that attack at 10. The second strike hit a house in the South Waziristan region. Residents and security officials say eight people died in the village of Gangi Khel.
The United States does not acknowledges firing the missiles,which are believed to be mostly fired from drones operated by the CIA and launched from neighboring Afghanistan.
Obama is making the war in Afghanistan and the intertwined al-Qaeda fight in Pakistan an immediate foreign policy priority. He has not commented on the missile strike policy,but struck a hawkish tone during his election campaign.