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15 alleged militants killed

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 14 (UPI) -- Suspected U.S. drone strikes in two separate tribal regions of Pakistan killed at least 15 alleged militants, officials said.

The strikes Tuesday targeted regions in both the South and North Waziristan tribal agencies, Pakistan's Frontier Post newspaper reported.

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The first strike, in the Bermal area of South Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan, struck a vehicle, killing eight people, the report said. The second strike targeted a pickup vehicle in the Shawal area in North Waziristan, killing seven people, the Post reported quoting officials and witnesses.

Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper quoted a Pakistani intelligence official as saying the strike in South Waziristan had targeted fighters of a faction led by local militant leader Maulvi Nazir that attacks U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, but not Pakistani troops.

"Eight suspected militants were killed in the attack," the official told the Tribune.

The report quoted sources as saying those killed in the strike included two top commanders.

The Tribune report quoted an official as saying seven alleged militants died in the second strike in North Waziristan.

U.S. officials have said they believe North Waziristan is a haven for the Haqqani network and other militants groups who attack coalition forces in Afghanistan.

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The drone strikes resumed early this year after a lull following a NATO airstrike in November that inadvertently killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

That incident led to further deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan relations and Islamabad closed two of its land routes to transport supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Efforts have been under way since then to improve relations.

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