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The Mideast

U.S. Missile Strike Kills Three in Northwest Pakistan

An American drone fired two missiles at a house in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border Tuesday, killing three people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The two officials said some people were also wounded in the strike near the town of Wana in South Waziristan.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Washington has fired scores of missiles into northwest Pakistan since 2008 to target Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked operatives. Some have hit their intended targets, while others have also killed civilians

The latest strike comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Islamabad following a recent claim by top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, that Pakistan's main spy agency backed militants who carried out attacks against American targets in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have denied the allegations and said Washington is trying to use Pakistan as a scapegoat for its troubled war in Afghanistan.

In a bid to beef up ties with other world powers, Pakistani leaders met with visiting Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu in Islamabad on Tuesday.

China has helped Pakistan bolster its defense.

Pakistan's interior minister vowed to attack Chinese militants hiding out in his country's tribal region, an apparent attempt to curry favor with China at a time when its alliance with the U.S. is severely strained.

He relayed the strong show of support for Beijing after a meeting in Islamabad with Meng. Rehman Malik said earlier on Sunday that Islamabad had killed or extradited several Chinese militants, but didn't say when or from where.

Some Pakistani officials hope that China can fill the diplomatic and economic void if Washington decides to sever or downgrade ties with Islamabad.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani heaped praise on China, saying the friendship between the two countries was "higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey."

However, many analysts doubt that China is interested in replacing the billions of dollars in aid the Americans give Pakistan every year.

But China also has concerns about the spread of Islamist militancy in Pakistan.

Muslim militants from China's western Xinjiang are known to be training and fighting on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border, along with Al Qaeda and other international extremist networks. They have claimed attacks in China and issued statements threatening Beijing.

"We will strike very hard against them," Malik said. "Anybody who is the enemy of China is the enemy of Pakistan."

It remains unclear how Pakistan will do this. Most of the militants are believed to be in the North Waziristan tribal area. Pakistan's army has a presence in the area, and the U.S. has repeatedly asked Islamabad to move against militants there. However, Pakistan has so far not launched an offensive.