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US missile attack leaves 12 dead

Militants have shot and wounded two foreign journalists on the outskirts of Peshawar, and US missiles killed 12 people in a strike on a Pakistani Taliban commander's stronghold in tribal lands bordering Afghanistan.

An unmanned American drone is said by the Pakistani military to have fired up to four missiles at a house in a remote village on the border between North and South Waziristan, where Baituallah Mehsud, an al-Qa'ida ally, has been confined by Pakistani forces since early this year. "We have reports that 12 people were killed, including five foreigners," a paramilitary official said. It was unclear if the dead foreigners included Arabs, who usually signify an al-Qa'ida presence. Mehsud, who was accused of being behind the assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last December, married a second wife in a ceremony earlier this week in the Makeen area of South Waziristan. Under Islamic custom a man can take up to four wives. In Peshawar, Sami Yousafzai, an Afghan journalist, recounted how he and a Japanese colleague were attacked by three gunmen on foot. "They stopped our car and put a gun to my head. I pushed it away and they opened fire," he said. Asahi newspaper's Islamabad bureau chief, Motoki Yotsukura, was hit in the leg. Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, has borne the brunt of attacks in cities by Islamist militants. Spiralling violence has raised fears that nuclear-armed Pakistan could slide into chaos unless the eight-month-old civilian government, also faced with a potentially crippling economic crisis, and the army can defeat the militant threat.