updated 9/14/2009 4:14:13 AM ET 2009-09-14T08:14:13

A missile fired from a suspected unmanned U.S. plane slammed into a car in a Pakistani tribal region close to the Afghan border on Monday, killing four people, intelligence officials and residents said.

The apparent American strike was the latest of more than 50 in the region since last year aimed at killing top al-Qaida and Taliban leaders. Last month, the head of the Pakistani Taliban was killed in one such strike.

Monday's attack took place about 1.5 miles from the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan, killing four people, two officials and witnesses said. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, saying they need to remain unnamed to do their job effectively.

The identities of the victims were not known.

Witnesses Ikramullah Khan and Mohammad Salim said the missile hit a vehicle with blacked-out windows — a style associated with Taliban fighters in the region.

U.S. shows no sign of ending strikes
Pakistan protests the U.S. missile strikes as violations of its sovereignty and say they fan support for the insurgents, but Washington has shown no sign of abandoning a tactic that it says has killed several ranking militants and disrupted their operations.

Islamist militants with roots in the border region launch near-daily attacks on Pakistan's U.S.-backed government and security forces. The mountainous, lawless area is also used as a safe haven from which to stage attacks on foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Under pressure from the West, Pakistan in April launched an offensive in the northwestern Swat Valley, which had fallen under Taliban control. It claims to have cleared most of Swat of the militants and killed more than 1,800 of them, although sporadic militant attacks continue.

Military crackdown in Swat
The army announced the capture last week of five top Swat Taliban commanders .

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Sunday authorities were now closing in on Swat Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah.

"Fazlullah is surrounded, and he cannot escape us," Malik told reporters in Islamabad.

The army is also fighting insurgents in the Khyber tribal region, where militants have frequently attacked trucks traveling through the Khyber pass carrying supplies to NATO and US troops in landlocked Afghanistan.

More on: Pakistan

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