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Missile Kills 12 in Northwestern Pakistan

Officials and witnesses in Pakistan say a missile strike has killed at least 12 people, including some foreigners, in the country's northwest along the border with Afghanistan.

Security officials say two explosions destroyed a house in the village of Damadola in the restive Bajaur tribal region Wednesday. Al-Qaida and Taliban-linked militants are believed to operate in the region.

One Pakistani security official said the missile was apparently fired from a U.S. unmanned drone aircraft.

A Pakistani army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas could not immediately confirm the reports of a missile strike.

A Taliban spokesman said women and children were among those killed in the reported attack.

Separately, Pakistani officials say the military has begun moving troops away from villages and towns in the volatile South Waziristan region as part of efforts to reach a peace deal with Taliban militants.

But a military spokesman told VOA that the troops are being redeployed, not withdrawn. He said the troop adjustment along the Afghan border will help facilitate the return of displaced civilians.

Meanwhile, security officials said Taliban militants freed at least 12 kidnapped soldiers this week in exchange for the release of about 30 tribesmen.

Pakistan's new coalition government began peace talks last month with militants loyal to the country's top Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.