Suspected missiles kill 8 in Pakistan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan The identities of those killed in the two attacks - the latest in a stepped up American campaign in the lawless region close to the Afghan border - were not immediately known.

Meanwhile, the government said an al-Qaida-linked terror group was suspected of helping carry out the September suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik's charge against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was the first time Pakistan has blamed a specific group for the bombing, which killed more than 50 people.

Monday's missiles struck about 5 miles (8 kilometers) apart just south of Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area, said local security official Bakht Janan. A house and a vehicle were destroyed in the attacks, which killed four people in each location, he said.

Witnesses told The Associated Press that an anti-aircraft gun mounted on a vehicle fired on one of the drones before it launched a missile.

The U.S. has carried out more than 30 missile strikes since August in Pakistan's lawless, semiautonomous tribal areas, targeting al-Qaida and Taliban militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan.

While the missile strikes have killed scores of militants, Pakistan has criticized them as an infringement of its sovereignty and say it undermines its own battle against extremism.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said he had no information on the Pakistan report. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad could not be reached for comment early Tuesday.

The United States rarely confirms or denies the attacks and has pushed Islamabad to crack down on militants in the tribal areas.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Pakistan Monday to meet with senior government officials.

Mullen arrived from Afghanistan, where he said the U.S. would send up to 30,000 additional troops to the country by summer to fight the resurgent Taliban.

Pakistan has arrested three people in the Sept. 20 Marriott truck bombing, but no one has been formally charged.

Malik told lawmakers that assailants packed explosives into the truck in Jhang town in Punjab province, south of Islamabad. He said the plot was "assisted" by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, but gave no more details on its involvement.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a Sunni Muslim militant group accused of killing hundreds of minority Shiites across Pakistan. Experts say in recent years it has formed links with al-Qaida. The group has been accused of attacks again Westerners in Karachi and two assassination attempts against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

Also Monday, Interior Ministry spokesman Shahidullah Baig said an investigation was launched into the theft of a large cache of weapons seized after last year's army assault on the Red Mosque, which left scores of occupying militants dead. The mosque was historically used as a jumping off point for militants en route to the fight in Kashmir.

Shahidullah Baig said 10 police officials, including the head of the Aapbara police station where the weapons were stored, had been arrested.

"The weapons have gone missing from the store, and it was learned recently that it has been happening in phases," Baig said.

He would not specify what was missing, but police seized assault rifles, pistols, hand grenades, rockets, rocket launchers and machine guns after the mosque assault in July 2007, a watershed moment in the country's struggle against militancy.

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