MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — Pakistani investigators were Friday trying to identify at least 10 militants killed in a US missile attack in the country's rugged tribal belt, officials said.
The strike Thursday by a suspected US spy plane, which targeted a rebel compound, killed 10 rebels in North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border where Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters are said to be hiding.
"We are collecting information about the identity of all those killed in the attack," a senior security official in the area told AFP.
"We believe that all the 10 men killed in the strike were Afghans as the compound belonged to the Haqqani network," he added.
The Haqqani network is a powerful Afghan group based in northwest Pakistan closely linked to Al-Qaeda and known for its sophisticated attacks targeting the Afghan government and foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The compound hit by the US spy plane was said to be the house of Afghan national Ahmad Afghani.
There were unconfirmed reports that one the sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former anti-Soviet fighter in Afghanistan, is called Ahmad.
Another security official said it was not yet clear whether any high-value targets including Ahmad were present at the time of attack in the Dandy Darpa Khel area of North Waziristan.
It was the fourth missile strike this month in North Waziristan. Washington says Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who fled Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion are holed up in the semi-autonomous tribal belt.
The US military does not, as a rule, confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy drones in the region.
Pakistani Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack on August 5 in neighbouring South Waziristan tribal district.
Pakistan has also carried out air strikes against Mehsud hideouts and commanders have vowed to hunt down the warlord's militant network in the remote northwest region.
Mehsud also allegedly masterminded multiple deadly bombings in the last two years.
More than 2,100 people have died in bombings across the country since July 2007, when government forces besieged a radical mosque in Islamabad and Mehsud loyalists claimed responsibility for some of the worst attacks.
Islamabad publicly opposes US missile strikes, saying they violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among the populace. Since August 2008, 57 such strikes have killed nearly 570 people.
Thursday's attack came as US President Barack Obama called for a "sustained and expanded" commitment to Pakistan from the international community.
He told a meeting of the 26-member Friends of Democratic Pakistan, which he chaired with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a New York hotel, that they all shared an interest in Pakistan's future.
As proof of Washington's commitment to its key regional ally, the US Senate voted Thursday to triple non-military aid to Islamabad to about 1.5 billion dollars per year through 2014.
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