ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A missile strike apparently by a U.S. drone hit a house in Pakistan's tribal region close to the Afghan border Friday, killing at least 12 people including several foreign militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
In the northwestern city of Peshawar, just outside the tribal areas, a Japanese journalist was shot in the leg and injured Friday. It was the third attack on a foreigner in the city in three days, police said.
An Iranian diplomat was kidnapped in the city and his bodyguard was killed Thursday, a day after an American aid worker and his driver were ambushed and killed there.
Three Pakistani intelligence officials told The Associated Press that at least two missiles hit a house in Ghari Wam, a village in North Waziristan about 18 miles from the Afghan border early Friday.
The lawless and rugged tribal areas are a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters suspected of mounting attacks on U.S. and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan as well as bombings within Pakistan. The border region is a possible hiding place for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.
The United States is suspected of having launched 19 cross-border missile strikes from unmanned drones based in Afghanistan since mid-August, all of them on the tribal areas.
Two of the intelligence officials said the death toll in the latest strike was 12, including several suspected foreign militants. Their exact identity was not immediately clear. Taliban gunmen had cordoned the area and removed the bodies, one official said.
Another official put the toll at 13 and said 10 of them were foreigners.
The officials cited reports from agents and informants in the area and the different tallies could not be reconciled immediately. They asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Washington rarely confirms or denies involvement in the attacks, which Pakistan leaders say fuel support for extremists and often kill civilians.
The Japanese journalist was traveling with an Afghan colleague in a car in Peshawar when gunmen opened fire, wounding both men and their Pakistani driver, said police officer Mohammed Khan. The injuries were not believed to be life threatening.
Khan identified the journalist as Motoki Yotsukura from the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Khan said police were treating the shooting as an abduction attempt. Another officer said it may have been an assassination attempt.
Security appears to be crumbling in Peshawar, a strategically vital city and a hub for Western-funded relief work in the region. Extremists there have found a firm foothold among an impoverished and isolated population.