US airstrike kills five in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: At least five suspected militants were killed in a US drone attack on a Taliban hideout in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal district, media reports said on Sunday.

Six other insurgents were wounded when two missiles fired from a pilotless aircraft struck a compound in Ismailkhel village on Saturday night, English-language The News daily reported.

The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that the men killed and wounded in the raid were thought to be affiliated with local tribal leader, Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

The airstrike was the second in two days. At least five Taliban militants were killed on Friday when two missiles struck their vehicle near Miranshah, main town of North Waziristan district.

The US has stepped up airstrikes inside Pakistan's tribal belt, which it says is used by the Taliban and al-Qaida members to plan and launch deadly assaults on Western forces fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Islamabad publicly opposes the drone attacks, but analysts believe the government has an undisclosed agreement with Washington over the issue.

The strikes, which have killed several insurgents including some leaders, stoke up anti-American sentiment among many Pakistanis, who describe the raids as violation of national sovereignty.

However, US officials say the attacks are vital to dismantling the insurgent network.

"We believe that, as I have stated and as our government has stated, that it is one of many tools that we must use to try to defeat a very determined and terrible enemy," US Senator John McCain said in Islamabad.
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