Members of an Islamic political party shouted anti-American slogans in Peshawar, Pakistan, in response to an American raid on militants in Pakistan. (Photo: Tariq Mahmoud / AFP / Getty Images)
Islamabad, Pakistan - As the American campaign against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan's tribal areas seemed to intensify on Friday, two missiles fired from remotely piloted American aircraft killed 12 people on Friday in an attack on a village compound in North Waziristan, according to a local journalist and television reports.
At the same time, fighting between Pakistan security forces and militants elsewhere in the wild lands bordering Afghanistan killed 32 militants and two soldiers, The Associated Press reported, citing a Pakistan Army spokesman, Maj. Murad Khan.
The missile strike was said to have taken place near Miran Shah, the main settlement in North Waziristan, before first light Friday and was aimed at the home of a local tribesman, Yousaf Khan Wazir, who was among the dead, a local journalist said, speaking in return for anonymity.
A Pakistani intelligence official said most of the dead in the attack were "Punjabi Taliban." The term refers to militants from the Punjab Province of Pakistan. The target was said to be a militant training camp, the official said, asking not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
The missiles were fired at a village called Tole Khel, two miles east of Miran Shah, and the dead included women and children, according to residents speaking to Pakistani reporters. There was no immediate word on the reported attack from American or Pakistani military authorities.
Pakistan's government has little control in the tribal areas which the United States regards as safe havens for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants. In July, President Bush approved secret orders permitting American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government, according to senior American officials.
Earlier this month, American forces raided a Pakistani village near the Afghan border in an attack that angered Pakistani officials who asserted that it had achieved little except killing civilians and stoking anti-Americanism in the tribal areas.
According to two American officials briefed on the raid, more than two dozen members of the Navy Seals spent several hours on the ground, supported by an AC-130 gunship, and killed about two dozen suspected Al Qaeda fighters before they were whisked away by helicopter.
Some Pakistani officials have made clear they prefer the C.I.A.'s Predator drone aircraft as the means of killing Qaeda operatives without the deployment of American troops on the ground.
In the missile strike 0n Friday, Pakistani gunships hovered over the area after the attack and a Pakistani military convoy in the area was hit by a roadside bomb that wounded three government soldiers, Pakistan state television reported.
The attack was the second of its kind this week. On Monday, a missile strike from a Predator killed several Arab Qaeda operatives. The increasing missile strikes are seen as part of a more aggressive overall American campaign in the border region less than two months before America's presidential elections.
Pir Zubair Shah reported from Islamabad and Alan Cowell from Paris.