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3 die in suspected drone attack in Pakistan

By Nasir Dawar, for CNN
  • Drone fires two missiles on compound in North Waziristan
  • Area has been the target of several drone attacks in recent months
  • U.S. is only country operating in region known to have drone missile capability

Three militants were killed Tuesday in a suspected U.S. drone strike on a compound near the Afghan border, officials told CNN.

The drone fired two missiles about 6:30 p.m. local time on the compound in Daigan, a village in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan, an intelligence official and a local government official said.

The Dattakhel area has been the target of several drone attacks in recent months. It is a volatile region in Pakistan's tribal area that borders Afghanistan, where Islamic militants have a strong presence. Earlier this month, 17 militants died in three separate suspected drone strikes in Dattakhel, security officials said.

U.S. officials normally do not comment on suspected drone strikes, which have caused tension between Pakistan and the United States in the past. The United States is the only country operating in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones, which are controlled remotely.

A strike January 14 was credited with injuring the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, according to intelligence officials. Ten others were killed in the attack in the village of Pasal Kot in North Waziristan.

The Taliban responded with two audiotapes said to be from Mehsud, in which he said he was in good health.

"Neither have I been martyred in a drone attack nor injured," the voice says on a tape released Saturday. CNN could not confirm whether the voice was that of Mehsud.

The missiles fell just days after Mehsud appeared in a video released by the Pakistani Taliban. In it, he sits next to Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the man believed to be the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees and a Jordanian army captain at a base in eastern Afghanistan December 30.