11 Taliban killed in US drone strikes

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Eleven Taliban militants were killed in two American drone strikes in Pakistan's rugged tribal regions today, officials said.

The attacks targeted a hideout and a vehicle with fighters inside.

A close ally of one of the area's top militant commanders was among the victims, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The US refuses to acknowledge the CIA-run drone programme in Pakistan publicly.

Pakistani officials regularly criticise the US attacks in public as violations of the country's sovereignty, but the government has supported them in private and allowed the drones to take off from bases within Pakistan.

That co-operation has become strained this year as the relationship between the US and Pakistan has deteriorated, especially following the arrest of a CIA contractor in January and the covert American raid that killed al-Qa'ida chief Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town in May.

The first attack in the South Waziristan tribal area hit a vehicle and killed Khan Mohammed, also known as Sathai, deputy leader of a group of militants led by Maulvi Nazir. Five others also died.

Hours later, five missiles hit the militant hideout near North Waziristan's town of Mir Ali, killing six men.

Nazir is one of the most powerful militant commanders in the tribal region and is accused of working with the Taliban and al-Qa'ida to stage attacks against foreign troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.