AS-Pakistan 2ndLd-Writethru 11-19
Suspected U.S. strike kills 6
A suspected U.S. missile strike hit a village deep inside Pakistani territory today, officials said, killing six alleged militants and indicating American willingness to pursue insurgents beyond the lawless tribal regions.
The strike was the latest in a surge of cross-border attacks in the country’s militant-plagued northwest in the last three months. The attacks have killed scores of suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants, but have enraged the country’s civilian leadership.
The attack was the first to hit an area outside the semiautonomous tribal belt that directly borders Afghanistan, something which could trigger extra anger among Pakistanis.
Hours after the strike, a large Islamist political party warned it would block two major supply routes for U.S and NATO forces in Afghanistan that run through Pakistan unless the attacks ended. The party has shown it can easily mobilize thousands of supporters at short notice. The supply lines have never been blocked by protests but militants and criminals often attack trucks traveling with them.
Javed Marwat, a local government official, told the Associated Press that two missiles destroyed a house in Indi Khel village in Bannu district. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said their agents reported that militants from Central Asia were among the six killed.
The U.S., which says Taliban and al-Qaida militants use pockets of northwest Pakistan to plan attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan, has been blamed in about 20 cross-border missile strikes since August. The U.S. rarely confirms or denies the strikes, which are believed to be carried out mainly by the CIA.
The missiles are apparently fired from unmanned planes launched in Afghanistan, where some 32,000 U.S. troops are fighting the Taliban and other militants.