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Suspected U.S. drone strikes kill 9 people

From Shaan Khan and Nasir Habib, CNN
October 27, 2011 -- Updated 1810 GMT (0210 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Thursday's strikes bring the total this year to 57, according to CNN's count
  • Intelligence officials: One strike kills four suspected militants at a hideout in North Waziristan
  • Five killed in another strike are senior commanders of an anti-American group, sources say
  • The attacks come a week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two suspected U.S. drone strikes killed nine people Thursday in Pakistan's tribal region, officials said, less than a week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the nation.

In one strike, a suspected U.S. drone fired four missiles on a hideout in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, killing four suspected militants, Pakistani intelligence officials told CNN.

Another suspected U.S. drone fired five missiles at a vehicle in neighboring South Waziristan, killing five senior members of an anti-American group led by Mullah Nazir that has links to the Haqqani network but is known to have no grudge with Pakistan, intelligence sources said.

The intelligence officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The attack in South Waziristan took place in the Azam Warsak area near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, said Javed Marwat, a government official.

Azam Warsak was the site of the first military offensive by Pakistani forces against militants in 2002, an operation said to have given birth to what is now the Pakistan Taliban.

North Waziristan and South Waziristan are two of the seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The attacks took place a week after Clinton's whirlwind visit, in which she urged Pakistan to establish "concrete steps" to battle the Haqqani network.

U.S. officials rarely discuss the CIA's drone program in Pakistan, though privately they have said the covert strikes are legal and an effective tactic in the fight against extremists.

Based on a count by the CNN Islamabad bureau, Thursday's suspected drone strikes were the 56th and 57th this year, compared with 111 in all of 2010.

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