updated 9/7/2009 12:07:04 PM ET 2009-09-07T16:07:04

A suspected U.S missile struck a Pakistani militant stronghold near the Afghan border late Monday, killing five people, intelligence and government officials said.

The missile hit a compound in Machi Khel village in the North Waziristan tribal area — a region home to Taliban and Taliban-affiliated militant groups, some of which are suspected in attacks on Western troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has fired scores of missiles from unmanned drones into Pakistan's lawless tribal regions over the past year, a campaign that it says has killed several top al-Qaida and Taliban commanders.

An August missile strike killed Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in neighboring South Waziristan tribal region.

The identities of the people killed Monday were not immediately clear, said the officials, two of whom work for Pakistani intelligence. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Local resident Hikmat Ullah said Monday's strike caused "a big blast."

"We saw three planes flying in the sky before the missile strike," he said.

Roadside bomb
Earlier Monday, a roadside bomb killed two Pakistani soldiers in a militant stronghold, also near the Afghan border, intelligence and army officials said.

Another two soldiers also were wounded when the bomb went off near the convoy traveling from Shakai to Wana, the main town in South Waziristan tribal region, the three officials said. The officials, two of whom work for Pakistani intelligence, requested anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to media.

Pakistan has deployed thousands of troops in its northwest to flush out Taliban and al-Qaida and their local supporters. The militants are suspected of using Pakistan as a safe haven to plan attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan.

South Waziristan for months has been a focus of Pakistani air strikes and U.S. missile strikes. A CIA missile strike in August killed Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

Elsewhere in the northwest, Pakistan's army is engaged in operations against the Taliban in the Swat Valley. Although most of the around 2 million people displaced in the four-month-old offensive have returned home, the valley is not yet back to normal.

In a statement Monday, the army warned Swat residents to remain vigilant after six people impersonating soldiers searched a house and looted money and other valuables.

The impersonation of security officers has been a major concern since a July 31 suicide bombing in Swat's main city, Mingora, that may have involved an attacker wearing a police uniform. That attack killed 17 cadets at a police station.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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