Suspected U.S. missiles hit a compound and a bunker in Pakistan's volatile tribal region, killing nine militants as part of an unprecedented wave of strikes since a deadly attack against the CIA across the border in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.
Three missiles targeted Taliban militants early Saturday in the Mohammad Khel area of North Waziristan, where militant groups blamed for launching attacks on American and NATO troops across the border are based, the officials said. The mountainous area is where a suspected U.S. drone is reported to have crashed on Jan. 24, they added.
Another such strike early this month targeted a meeting of militant commanders in an apparently unsuccessful attempt to kill Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Mehsud appeared in a video sitting beside the Jordanian man who carried out the Dec. 30 suicide bombing of a remote CIA base in Afghanistan's Khost province that killed seven of the agency's employees. A Pakistani Taliban spokesman also claimed responsibility for the attack to avenge the killing of their former chief, Baitullah Mehsud, in a drone strike last year.
Analysts suspect the Haqqani network, an Al Qaeda-linked Afghan Taliban faction based in North Waziristan, also helped carry out the CIA attack, the worst against the spy agency in decades.
Since the bombing, the U.S. has carried out 13 suspected drone strikes in North and South Waziristan, an unprecedented volley of attacks since the CIA-led missile program began in earnest in Pakistan two years ago.
Two missiles in Saturday's attack hit the compound being used by the militants, killing seven of them, the intelligence officials said. The third killed two more insurgents in the bunker, they said.
The three officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to the media.
The U.S. does not usually comment on the strikes or their targets, but officials have said in the past that they have taken out several senior Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. The Pakistani government publicly condemns the strikes as violations of its sovereignty, yet it is thought to have a secret deal with Washington allowing them.