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Wife of Pakistani Taliban Leader Killed in Missile Strike

Pakistani officials say one of the wives of Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed early Wednesday by a suspected U.S. missile strike on his father-in-law's house.

At least one other person was reported killed in the attack early Wednesday in the South Waziristan tribal region. Relatives say four children were wounded and Mehsud's father-in-law was not harmed.

A relative and an associate of Mehsud told news agencies that the top Taliban leader was not in the house at the time of the attack. But Pakistani officials have not confirmed his whereabouts.

It is nearly impossible to confirm details of attacks in South Waziristan, a rugged, remote and lawless region.

Wednesday's strike is the latest in a series of suspected U.S. missile attacks targeting Mehsud in his stronghold. The Pakistani military says it is preparing for an assault against the top Taliban leader, who has claimed responsibility for a spate of suicide bombings across Pakistan.

The United States has put a $5 million bounty on Mehsud, who it says has close ties to al-Qaida operatives.

Pakistan's preliminary assault on South Waziristan follows a three-month military campaign in Swat and Malakand. Pakistani forces started the offensive when Taliban militants violated a peace deal to impose strict Islamic law.

On Wednesday, the Pakistani military said it had killed eight suspected militants and detained 14 others during operations in the area with the help from local militias (known as "lashkars").

Meanwhile, Pakistani Christians staged a protest in Lahore over the killing of eight members of their community by Muslim attackers Saturday. Some of the protesters broke car windows during the demonstration.

Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah says officials suspect banned Sunni group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and its al-Qaida-linked affiliate, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, of orchestrating the violence in Gojra.

On Saturday, Muslims stormed a Christian neighborhood in Gojra, torching dozens of homes over allegations that Christians had desecrated the Koran. Church and government officials said the accusations are false.

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