ISTANBUL - A suspected U.S. drone missile killed 10 people in a Pakistani region on the Afghan border on Friday, security officials said, the latest in a series of strikes that have infuriated Pakistan. There have been nearly 20 attacks by suspected missile-firing pilotless U.S. drones since the beginning of September, but Friday's is the first since Tuesday's U.S. presidential election.
Pakistan objects to the strikes as not only a violation of its sovereignty but counter-productive to its efforts to tackle militants behind surging violence in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A Pakistani intelligence agency official said the strike was on a house in North Waziristan but a military official said the attack was in South Waziristan. Both regions are al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries on the Afghan border.
"It happened close to the border. We have reports of 10 dead but it will take time to get more information," Reuters news agency quoted a military officer as saying.
U.S. forces have stepped up attacks on militants in Pakistan in response to concern about worsening security in Afghanistan. Washington has shrugged off Pakistani protests, saying the attacks are needed to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan and kill Taliban and al-Qaeda militants who threaten them.
Pakistan hopes the new U.S. administration will be more sensitive to its concerns, although President-elect Barack Obama made comments in his campaign suggesting he would take a hawkish approach toward the border area militants.
While the U.S. strikes have been focused on North and South Waziristan, Pakistani forces have for months been battling militants elsewhere in the northwest, in particular Bajaur, to the northeast of Waziristan on the Afghan border. The militants have responded with a series of bomb attacks.
On Thursday, a suicide bomber attacked a meeting of about 200 pro-government ethnic Pashtun tribesmen drawing up plans to drive militants out of their area. Pakistani officials on Friday said at least 22 people has died as a suicide attacker blew himself up in Batmalai, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Khar, the main town in the semi-autonomous Bajaur district bordering Afghanistan.
Security has been tightened across Bajaur since the attack, local police official Fazal-i-Rabi told Agence France-Presse.
A second security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the head and feet of the bomber have been recovered for DNA testing to determine his identity. The bomber is suspected to be an Uzbek national, the official said.