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Missile Strike Kills 4 in NW Pakistan

A suspected American missile strike killed four militants in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, intelligence officials said, the latest in an unprecedented barrage this month against suspected al Qaeda and Taliban targets.

There was no word on the identities of those killed in the attack in South Waziristan region, which lies just across the border from Afghanistan. The Pakistani army last year launched a major anti-militant offensive in the region, though insurgents remain.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials said a pair of missiles struck a house in the Angoor Adda district.

They said four militants were killed. They did not give their names because their agency does not permit it.

The United States occasionally fired missiles into Pakistan's border area beginning in 2004 but their pace picked up in late 2007 and has continued ever since. This month there has been at least 21 attacks, more than double the highest number fired in any other single month.

The U.S. refuses to publicly acknowledge the drone strikes, but officials have said privately that they have killed several senior al Qaeda and Taliban commanders. BBC News reports that a U.S. strike on Saturday killed Sheikh Fateh, an Egyptian citizen and al-Qaeda's chief of operations for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The New York Times reports that beyond the C.I.A. drone strikes, the war in the region is escalating in other ways. In recent days, American military helicopters have launched three airstrikes into Pakistan that military officials estimate killed more than 50 people suspected of being members of the militant group known as the Haqqani network, which is responsible for a spate of deadly attacks against American troops.

Pakistani officials have criticized the strikes in the past as violations of the country's sovereignty, but such criticism has been muted in recent months despite the high number of attacks. Many analysts believe Pakistan assists the U.S. in carrying out the strikes, especially when they target groups like the Pakistani Taliban that are at war with the state.

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