MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — Missiles fired from a US drone slammed into a car killing three militants Friday, the second strike in two days in Pakistan's tribal region of North Waziristan, security officials said.
The northwest tribal belt, rife with Islamist extremist networks, has seen a a hail of bombings in the past month by US spy planes, as Washington pursues militant groups it says Pakistan is not doing enough to tackle.
Also Friday, an anti-Taliban tribal leader and four others were killed in a roadside bomb in the northwest, the latest in a wave of attacks against respected elders allied with the government against the extremists.
The morning attack by a drone aircraft struck a vehicle carrying suspected militants in Ghundikala village, 15 kilometres (nine miles) east of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan and close to the Afghan border.
"A US drone fired two missiles, targeting a vehicle and killing three militants," a senior security official in the area told AFP.
"The identity of militants is not known yet. It is also not clear whether any high value target was present in the area when the attack took place."
The official requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the US strikes in Pakistan, which have killed at least 662 people since August 2008 and greatly inflame anti-American sentiment in the Muslim nation.
"We saw a vehicle engulfed in flames after the missile strike," a local tribesman in the area told AFP by phone on condition of anonymity.
"It was difficult to go close to the vehicle as it was surrounded by militants, who later removed dead bodies from the wreckage."
It was not clear which group was targeted. North Waziristan is rife with Taliban militants, Al-Qaeda fighters and members of the powerful Haqqani network, which is known for staging attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The bombing comes the morning after a US drone attack killed four militants in Machikhel village, about 25 kilometres east of Miranshah.
Seven US missile strikes in the same area of North Waziristan have killed 44 people in the past month, although the identities of those killed are hard to verify as the deaths are deep in Taliban-controlled territory.
The region saw a rise in US strikes last year after President Barack Obama took office and established Pakistan as a front line in the war on Al-Qaeda.
US authorities do not confirm drone attacks, but its military is the only force that deploys drones in the region.
North Waziristan neighbours South Waziristan, where Pakistan has been focusing its most ambitious military offensive yet against homegrown Taliban militants. It sent about 30,000 troops into the region on October 17.
The military has launched multiple operations across the tribal region, sparking fierce retaliation by the insurgents. On Friday, five people were killed in a bombing in Bajaur tribal district.
"A pro-government tribal elder, Gulshali Khan, and four others were killed when a remote-controlled bomb exploded near their vehicle in Salarzai," top local administration official Zakir Hussain Afridi told AFP.
Two suicide bombers were also killed when explosives they had wrapped around their bodies went off accidentally near a military camp in the northwest, a local police chief said.
Obama's administration is pressuring Islamabad to crack down on not only the Pakistani Taliban, but also Al-Qaeda fighters and militants who cross the border and attack US and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan.
He has put Pakistan at the heart of his new strategy for winning the eight-year war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, saying success depends on dismantling militant sanctuaries along the porous frontier.
The foreign forces in Afghanistan also rely on Pakistan as a transport route for supplies, and on Friday gunmen ambushed two tankers travelling though the southwestern province of Baluchistan headed to NATO troops.
Local police official Mohammad Ansar told AFP that one of the trucks was badly damaged, but no one was killed in the attack in a province troubled by both Islamist and separatist violence.
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