updated 12/22/2008 3:28:26 AM ET 2008-12-22T08:28:26

Suspected U.S. missile strikes killed at least eight people Monday in volatile northwest Pakistan, officials and witnesses said.

Bakht Janan, a local security official at a check post, said an unmanned drone aircraft began circling over the village of Kari Khel around 3 a.m., then fired missiles at two vehicles several hours later. Witnesses told The Associated Press that one of the vehicles had been blasting away with an anti-aircraft gun at the drone.

Four people were killed as missiles hit the vehicle and an adjacent, fortlike house, while four others died and one was injured in the second vehicle five miles away by dirt track.

Janan said an unexploded missile was found on the ground near the first vehicle.

Bodies pulled from rubble
Yar Mohammad, a villager, said local Taliban pulled out bodies from the rubble while cordoning off the scene about 10 miles south of Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border.

The United States has carried out a series of more than 30 missile strikes since August in Pakistan's lawless, semiautonomous tribal areas, targeting al-Qaida and Taliban militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan. While the missile strikes have killed scores of militants, Pakistani officials have criticized them as an infringement of its sovereignty and say they undermine their own war on terror.

Most of the missiles are believed to have been launched from unmanned spy planes that take off from Afghanistan. Washington rarely confirms or denies the attacks.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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