ISLAMABAD, November 7 – At least 10 Al-Qaeda-linked militants were killed Friday in a suspected US missile strike on a tribal area in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, a senior security official told AFP.
"Several missiles struck a suspected Al-Qaeda hideout in North Waziristan and initial reports say 10 militants were killed," the official said on condition of anonymity.
An intelligence official also confirmed the number of dead, adding: "Most of the militants killed were foreigners."
Pakistan officials use the term "foreigners" to describe Al-Qaeda extremists.
A series of recent strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan’s tribal badlands bordering Afghanistan — all blamed on unmanned CIA drones — have raised tensions between Washington and Islamabad.
On Monday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari warned the new US commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, that the attacks were "counterproductive" and could harm the battle for hearts and minds here.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the country’s military top brass also told the visiting Petraeus that the United States should respect Pakistani sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Previous protests have seen Washington’s ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, called in to the foreign ministry to hear the dissatisfaction of Pakistani officials.
And Pakistan’s national security adviser also reportedly made a personal protest to White House officials in Washington after a strike in September that claimed the lives of civilians.
But the attacks have continued. Last Friday, two separate strikes in the North Waziristan and South Waziristan areas killed at least 32 mainly Al-Qaeda operatives, according to Pakistani security sources.
Pakistan is waiting to see how US president-elect Barack Obama will tackle militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan once he takes office in January.
The Democratic senator from Illinois has said he favours continuing the strikes and increasing the number of US troops to crush an insurgency by Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan.
Pakistan rejects accusations that it is not doing enough to tackle the extremist threat within its own borders.
Last month the military said that some 1,500 rebels and 73 soldiers had died since an operation began in August against militants in the semi-autonomous Bajaur region of northwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.