U.S. missiles killed 25 people in an al-Qaida and Taliban sanctuary close to the Afghan border on Friday, Pakistani officials said, signaling American intent to press ahead with such attacks despite renewed protests by Islamabad.
In another reminder of the difficulties facing Washington, a well-known politician said he and his followers would try to "blockade" NATO supplies that pass through Pakistan en route to Afghanistan over the weekend to protest the strikes.
Some of the missile victims were militants loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a commander known to stage attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan, but two women and five children were also killed, the officials said.
The United States has been regularly firing missiles into the border region for 2 1/2 years now, but does not formally acknowledge the CIA-run program. U.S. officials rarely comment on specific strikes, but have said in general terms that they accurately hit militants.
American silence means the sources of information about the strikes are Pakistani intelligence officials, who are forbidden to give their names to the media.
The officials said up to 10 missiles destroyed a compound in Spinwam village in North Waziristan, home to militants targeting American and NATO troops just across the border in Afghanistan, as well as to al-Qaida terrorists.
The United States is seeking Pakistan's cooperation in helping stabilize Afghanistan, but tensions between the two nations rose sharply this year after Raymond Davis, an American CIA contractor, shot and killed two Pakistanis he said were trying to rob him.
A day after the contractor's release from prison in March, a missile strike that allegedly killed dozens of innocent tribesmen prompted a rare protest by Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
On Thursday, Kayani said the "drone strikes undermine our national effort against terrorism and turn public support against our efforts, which remains the key to success."
Meanwhile, a protest against armed military drones operated from an upstate New York air base led to arrests on Friday.
WSYR-TV in Syracuse reported that about 30 people were charged with minor violations during the demonstration outside Hancock Air National Guard Base.
The protest was organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. The organization said civilian deaths in drone attacks are violations of human rights.