By Saud Mehsud
DERA ISMAIL KHAN Pakistan (Reuters) - A U.S. drone strike killed two suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, Pakistani intelligence officials said, part of a flurry of strikes this week after a long pause earlier this year.
The strike on a vehicle in the Shawal area near the border with Afghanistan marked the seventh strike in the past week and the 16th strike this year.
The increase in attacks follows a six-month hiatus when the Pakistani government pursued fruitless peace talks with Taliban militants.
Drone strikes resumed on June 11, four days before the Pakistani military announced an anti-Taliban offensive in North Waziristan, a remote and mountainous region on the border with Afghanistan that had provided the Taliban with their key refuge.
On Saturday, a group of foreigners, including two women, were arrested trying to enter the city of Dera Ismail Khan on suspicion that they were militants fleeing drone strikes, two Pakistani security officials said.
The group did not have identity documents and appeared to be Arabs, the officials said.
"The recent Pakistani army operation in North Waziristan has made it hard for militants, especially foreigners, because drones are also targeting them," an intelligence officer told Reuters.
The military says it has killed hundreds of Taliban fighters in North Waziristan, but journalists are banned from the area so reports cannot be independently confirmed.
Residents said many militants moved out weeks before the operation began, including top commanders from the Haqqani network, a group blamed for the deadliest attacks on U.S. and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
(Additional reporting by Haji Mujtaba in Bannu; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Aidan Martindale)