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Missile strike kills nine in Pakistani religious school

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Suspected U.S. missiles struck a religious school linked to the Taliban on Thursday, killing nine people in the lawless border region where al-Qaida and its Taliban allies are believed to plot attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The strike came hours after parliament warned against any incursions on Pakistani soil and condemned the wave of terrorism tearing at the country, while stressing the need for dialogue.

The suspected U.S. missiles hit the religious school on the outskirts of Miran Shah, the main town in the region of North Waziristan, four intelligence officials said. No students were believed to be at the school at the time.

Relying on informants and agents in the area, two officials said nine people were killed, including four pulled lifeless from the rubble hours after the strike, and two others were wounded.

The religious school belonged to a local cleric linked to the veteran Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, considered a top foe of the United States, they said.

The intelligence officials gave the information on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Militants in the northwest are blamed for rising attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan as well as surging suicide attacks within Pakistan.

But the cross-border missile attacks have angered many Pakistani lawmakers and the pro-U.S. government has protested them as violations of the country’s sovereignty.

The parliamentary resolution broadly supported the government’s current approach, but it was vague and had few details, apparently a result of political compromise after two weeks of closed-door debate.

It did not directly mention two of the most divisive issues surrounding the terror fight: army offensives in the northwest and calls for unconditional talks with the extremists.