msnbc.com news services
updated 3/16/2008 11:46:58 AM ET 2008-03-16T15:46:58

A U.S. warplane fired missiles on Sunday at a house in a Pakistani region known as a haven for al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, a Pakistani intelligence official said. The source said at least 9 extremists were killed, but Pakistan Television put the death toll at 20.

Four missiles were fired at the home in Shahnawaz Kheil Dhoog, a village near the town of Wana in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border, the intelligence official said.

"It was apparently an American plane that fired precision guided missiles at the house," the official, who requested not to be identified, told Reuters.

Three foreigners, an Arab and two Turks, were among those killed, according to the intelligence official.

"Except the boundary walls, the house has been destroyed," said a senior district government official who declined to be identified. "The place has been used for some time as a militant hideout," he said.

Local tribesman Rahim Khan told The Associated Press that the home was that of a local militant leader and Taliban sympathizer who goes by the single name Noorullah.

Pakistan has been battling Islamic militants linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban in its regions bordering Afghanistan. The U.S. considers the country’s effort vital to the war on terrorism.

Earlier reports suggested the missiles were fired by an unmanned drone.

A missile believed fired by a U.S. drone killed 13 suspected militants in South Waziristan in late February.

And on Jan. 28 one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants, Abu Laith al-Libi, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan.

We didn't do it, Pakistan says
Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said there were reports of blasts and some casualties in the area and the military was checking.

Abbas also said Pakistani forces had not carried out any operation in the area and he did not know who carried out the strike or what type of weapon was used.

Neither U.S. nor Pakistani authorities officially confirm U.S. missile attacks on Pakistani territory, which would be an infringement of Pakistani sovereignty.

Pakistan, an important U.S. ally despite widespread public opposition to the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban, says foreign troops would never be allowed to operate on its territory.

Many al-Qaida members, including Uzbeks and Arabs, as well as Taliban militants took refuge in North and South Waziristan, and in other areas on the Pakistani side of the border after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001.

From sanctuaries in the lawless border belt, the Taliban have orchestrated their insurgency against the Afghan government and the U.S. and NATO forces supporting it.

Increasingly, so-called Pakistani Taliban have been mounting attacks in Pakistani towns and cities, many aimed at security forces and other government targets.

In the latest bomb attack, a Turkish woman was killed and five Americans were among 11 people wounded in a blast at a restaurant popular with foreigners in the capital, Islamabad, on Saturday night.

The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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