Suspected US airstrike kills three in Pakistan (Lead)

Islamabad, April 19 (Inditop) A suspected US missile strike in Pakistan’s troubled South Waziristan tribal district near Afghan border Sunday killed at least three people, an intelligence official said.

Missiles believed to have been fired from a US-operated Predator drone hit a suspected militant hideout in Gangikhel village, just outside the district’s main town of Wana.

“Information reaching us is sketchy, but three people have been confirmed dead,” the official said on condition of anonymity. Several more people were also wounded in the attack, he added.

Identities of those killed were not known immediately as armed militants cordoned off the area after the blast.

Private television channels put the death toll as high as seven while citing unnamed sources.

South Waziristan is the stronghold of top militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, who is blamed for a series of bombings on security forces and government functionaries.

The US has intensified its missile strikes by pilotless aircraft in recent months, saying militant sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal region must be eliminated to control the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.