updated 7/17/2009 9:58:01 AM ET 2009-07-17T13:58:01

A suspected U.S. missile strike in a Pakistani tribal region killed at least five alleged militants Friday, officials said, showing America's unwillingness to abandon the tactic even as Pakistani officials say it could interfere with army offensives in the northwest.

Also Friday, Pakistan's top court overturned opposition leader Nawaz Sharif's conviction on hijacking charges stemming from the 1999 coup against his government, clearing the last obstacle to his running for office.

The missile strike hit a house in Gariwam village in North Waziristan, said two intelligence officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media on the record.

Local government official Anayat Ullah also confirmed a missile had hit the village, while resident Ahmad Raza said he heard Taliban in the area saying five of their comrades were dead.

Dozens of missile strikes
Over the past year, the United States has launched dozens of missiles strikes in Pakistan's northwest regions bordering Afghanistan. The North and South Waziristan sections of the country's semiautonomous tribal belt have been frequent targets because of the heavy Taliban and al-Qaida presence there.

U.S. officials rarely acknowledge or comment on the individual strikes, but some have defended the tactic as being extremely valuable, saying it has killed several top al-Qaida fighters.

Though many analysts suspect the two countries have a secret deal allowing the drone-fired missiles, Pakistan formally protests the assaults, saying they violate its sovereignty and stir anger among tribes in the affected areas.

The army has said that keeping the Waziristan tribes happy is key right now in particular, because it needs their help, or neutrality, as it prepares to launch a full-scale offensive aimed at capturing or killing Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan's Taliban chief. South Waziristan is his base, and U.S. missiles have hit targets associated with him.

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