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Oct 16, 5:15 PM EDT

Suspected US missiles kill 20 militants in NW Pakistan



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DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) -- Missiles apparently fired by a U.S. drone struck a militant compound in the Kurram tribal region close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border Monday evening, killing 20 extremists, two intelligence officials said Monday

Five militants were initially reported killed but a later search of the compound found 15 more bodies, the officials said.

The officials, who agreed to discuss the attack only if not quoted by name because they were not authorized to brief media, said the number of militants present in the compound when the missiles struck showed the site was a main center for Haqqani network militants in the area.

The militant group used to have its main sanctuary in Dande Darpa Khal near Miran Shah, the main city in the North Waziristan tribal region. The group disappeared from there after Pakistani troops started operation following a militant attack on an army public school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people, mostly school children.

A government official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity for not being authorized to speak on sensitive matters, said the compound targeted Monday was very close to the porous border with Afghanistan in mountainous terrain. He said it was not yet clear whether the compound was on Pakistanis territory.

The strike came a day after roadside bombs killed four security troops engaged in a search operation for militants in Kurram.

Pakistan considers U.S. drone strikes a violation of its sovereignty. Washington accuses Pakistan of providing safe havens for militants, which Pakistan denies.

Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif said on Geo Tv that at a time when a new start for peace talks is being taken, the U.S. should not make any drone strike in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. He said the matter would definitely be taken up in talks with U.S. leaders.

Four-nation talks on peace and stability in Afghanistan started Monday in Muscat, Oman.

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