updated 3/13/2009 9:56:39 AM ET 2009-03-13T13:56:39

Rescuers searched Friday for bodies in the debris of a house destroyed by suspected U.S. missiles in northwestern Pakistan as the death toll rose to 22, including foreign extremists, intelligence officials said.

The strike late Thursday was the latest in about three dozen suspected U.S. attacks close to the Afghan border since last year. American officials say they have killed scores of militants, including ranking members of al-Qaida, the terror group blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

The missiles were believed to have been fired from unmanned drones launched from neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan's government publicly protests the raids as violations of its sovereignty and says the anger generated by them undercuts its efforts to battle extremism. Still, top civilian and military officials are widely believed to have a deal with Washington allowing them.

The latest strike took place in Barjo, in Kurram agency, according to witness Ismail Khan and a government official.

House targeted
The target was a house used by a local Taliban commander as a training facility, two intelligence officials said. Like the government official, they spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The officials said militants were at the targeted facility removing debris. They said 22 people died, including some foreign fighters. They did not specify nationalities, but the region is thought to be home to scores of Afghan fighters, as well as some Arabs and Muslims from other countries.

The United States is pressing Pakistan to do more to fight militants in the border region, which militants use to stage and plan attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The remote, lawless area is believed to be a likely hiding place for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

More on: Pakistan

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