Security officials in northwest Pakistan say a U.S. drone attack that may have been targeting the leader of the Pakistani Taliban has killed at least 12 militants.
It is unclear if Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in the missile strike that hit a compound in Pasalkot village on the border of South Waziristan and North Waziristan. His fighters insist he is still alive. The Associated Press quotes Pakistani intelligence officers as saying Mehsud was not killed.
Last week, militants released a video showing Mehsud with the al Qaida-linked Jordanian militant who carried out the suicide bombing on a U.S. base in Afghanistan that killed seven American intelligence officers.
The Pakistani Taliban, Afghan Taliban and al Qaida have all claimed credit for the attack on the base in Khost province. The video indicates there could be collaboration among the different militant factions.
The U.S. intelligence base in Khost is across the border from North Waziristan and is considered to be a key part of efforts to locate wanted militants in Pakistan's tribal areas.
Since the base was attacked, the United States has launched at least seven missile strikes against targets in the Waziristan region.
Pakistani officials publicly protest the attacks, but they are believed to secretly cooperate with U.S. efforts to locate militant targets.
U.S. officials have publicly pressed Pakistan to do more in its campaign against militants. On Wednesday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed caution about further military escalation in the tribal areas, saying expanding drone strikes or launching ground operations would undermine Pakistan's relationship with the United States.
He appeared before reporters in Islamabad with visiting U.S. special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke said Washington's relationship with Islamabad is in a better place than it was a year ago, although he added no relationship is "without difficulties."
Holbrooke said there has been a massive increase in foreign assistance to Pakistan and the U.S. remains committed to a partnership with the country based on "mutual trust and respect."