Peshawar: Two US missile strikes about two hours apart killed at least 14 men near the Afghan border in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.
At least nine people were killed in the first strike when missiles destroyed a moving vehicle in the Spin Wam area of the North Waziristan tribal region, the officials said.
Two hours later drones fired more missiles at people who had gathered to retrieve the bodies, killing five, they said.
The identities and nationalities of the 14 slain men were not immediately known, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to reporters on the record.
US authorities often target militants and militants` facilities in the region. The latest strikes came a day after four missiles struck a convoy of militants in the town of Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan, killing eight suspected militants.
More than 110 such strikes, carried out by unmanned drones, were launched in 2010 in the northwest border region — more than double the number in 2009. Nearly all have hit North Waziristan, a hide-out for local and foreign insurgents who target US and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan`s government and the country`s opposition protest the missile strikes, saying they violate the country`s sovereignty and anger tribesmen whose support is needed to fend off extremists. But Islamabad is widely believed to secretly support the attacks and provide intelligence for at least some of them.
US officials rarely discuss the covert, CIA-run missile program. Privately, however, they say it is a crucial tool and has killed several top militant leaders. They also say the drone-fired strikes are very accurate and usually kill militants while limiting civilian deaths.