Death toll from frontier drone strikes rises to 22
January 24th, 2009
MIRAMSHAH Missiles fired from suspected US drones on Friday slammed into presumed militant dens in Pakistan killing 22 people, including three children and at least four civilians, officials said.
Three intelligence officials say funerals were held Saturday for nine Pakistanis killed Friday in the North Waziristan region.
They say Taliban fighters earlier removed the bodies of five suspected foreign militants, who also died in the attack.
The strikes, which pulverised two houses in the northwest tribal belt, were the first since US President Barack Obama took office and one day after he appointed a brand new special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Eight people died when missiles fired from an unmanned surveillance plane slammed into a fortress-like militant compound near Mir Ali, a notorious Al-Qaeda hub in Pakistans North Waziristan, security officials said.
Hours later another suspected US drone fired two missiles into a house in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, killing seven people.
The first missile strike killed five foreign militants just outside Mir Ali, in North Waziristan at 510 pm, a security official told AFP.
A militant den was successfully destroyed. At least five foreign Al-Qaeda militants were killed and three locals but there was no immediate confirmation of any high value target, a security official said.
The house belonged to tribesman and Taliban sympathiser Khalil Dawar. The identities of the three dead locals were not immediately known.
On Saturday, six more bodies were recovered from the rubble of Dawars house in North Waziristan, security officials told AFP.
The second missile strike in South Waziristan targeted 45-year-old tribesman Din Farazs house, local officials said. A two-year-old and two other children of school age - a cousin and another relative of Faraz – were also killed in the blast.
Soon after the blast, electricity went down and the area was plunged into darkness, as Taliban militants sealed off the attack site, officials said.
The strikes came after Obama said extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where US troops are fighting the Taliban, posed a grave threat that his administration would tackle as a single problem under a wider strategy.