US missile strikes kill 51 in South Waziristan
* Taliban official says Baitullah Mehsud was in area, escaped unhurt
PESHAWAR: Two suspected US missile strikes killed at least 51 Taliban in South Waziristan on Tuesday, where the army is poised for an attack on Baitullah Mehsud, officials said.
A security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity the first drone fired three missiles, killing six and wounding seven. “A missile attack by a suspected US drone took place in rugged mountainous terrain in Neej Narai in South Waziristan,” said a security official on condition of anonymity. He said the first drone fired three missiles on Tuesday morning, adding that “six militants were killed and seven others wounded in the attack”. Another security official confirmed the incident and casualties, saying the missiles had destroyed a compound, a bunker and two vehicles of the Taliban.
Second strike: As the Taliban gathered for funeral prayers later in the day, another drone aircraft dropped three more missiles, officials said. The second bombing killed at least 45 Taliban on Tuesday. “Three missiles were fired by drones as people were dispersing after offering funeral prayers for Niaz Wali,” an intelligence official said referring to a Taliban commander killed in the earlier drone attack on Tuesday. “Our agents in the area informed us that 11 militants were confirmed dead. We have reports of dozens wounded,” another security official based in the northwest told AFP. He said that hundreds of militants had assembled for the funeral prayers. “The reports we are receiving from the area said that the death toll may rise as hundreds of militants were attending the funeral prayers,” he added.
Not hurt: Mehsud, the Taliban chief accused of plotting the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, had been in the area but was not hurt, a Taliban official said. The US military does not, as a rule, confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy unmanned drones in the region. agencies