Suspected American missiles bombarded a village deep inside Pakistani territory Wednesday, officials said, marking what appears to be the first time the U.S. has struck beyond the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
Six alleged militants were killed.
Hours after the strike, a large Islamist political party warned it would block two major supply routes for U.S and NATO forces in Afghanistan unless the attacks ended.
The attacks have killed scores of suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the tribal regions that are a rumored hiding place of Osama bin Laden, but have enraged the country's leadership.
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If the attacks continue, “We will ask the people to create hurdles in the way of supplies for NATO,” Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami party, told reporters.
The party has shown it can mobilize thousands at short notice. The supply lines have never been blocked by protests but militants and criminals often attack trucks traveling with them.
Two missiles destroyed a house in Indi Khel village in Bannu district, said Javed Marwat, a local government official. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said their agents reported that militants from Central Asia were among the six killed.
The U.S., which says Taliban and al-Qaida militants use pockets of northwest Pakistan to plan attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan, has been blamed in about 20 cross-border missile strikes since August. The U.S. rarely confirms or denies the strikes, which are believed to be carried out mainly by the CIA.
The missiles are apparently fired from unmanned planes launched in Afghanistan, where some 32,000 U.S. troops are fighting the Taliban and other militants.
Pakistan has protested the strikes as violations of its sovereignty and international law but the attacks continue, leading analysts to speculate that the two nations may have a secret deal.
Until Wednesday, all the attacks since August were in North and South Waziristan, two tribal regions where the government has ceded much of its limited control to militants. U.S. officials say they want to help Pakistan regain sovereignty over such areas.
The Bannu district begins roughly 18 miles from the border with Afghanistan.
Two other intelligence officials, both based in Bannu, said militants had begun moving farther from the border in an apparent bid to avoid the missile strikes.