Volley of US missiles kills 12 in SWA
* Several others wounded as drones fire up to 10 missiles at two militant compounds in Babar Ghar village
* Residents say militants cordoned off area after attack
MIRANSHAH: US drones fired a volley of missiles at militant hideouts in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 12 Taliban fighters near the Afghan border, security officials said.
The missile attack took place in Babar Ghar village in South Waziristan, a tribal district bordering Afghanistan which is a stronghold of Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants. “US drones fired several missiles at two militant compounds. At least 12 militants have been killed and several others were wounded,” a security official in Miranshah told AFP under condition of anonymity. The official earlier said eight militants were killed.
“There are members of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) among those who have been killed,” he said, adding that a close relative of TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was among the dead. “Most of the militants were from Punjabi Taliban group and a close relative of Hakimullah Mehsud,” the official said. Another security official in Peshawar confirmed the drone attacks and casualties.
Intelligence officials in Miranshah said that militants had died after US drones fired up to 10 missiles on three militant compounds in the Babar Ghar attack, but the security officials could not verify that account. Residents said that militants had cordoned off the area and were looking for more dead or wounded in the debris. US drone strikes last week killed a prominent warlord who sent insurgents to fight NATO troops in Afghanistan along with nine other militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
Mullah Nazir was the main militant commander in South Waziristan, part of the tribal zone where militants linked to the Taliban and al Qaeda have bases on the Afghan border. He is one of the highest-profile drone victims in recent years. Three intelligence sources and a Taliban commander said that Wali Muhammed, also known as Toofin, was among the dead. He supervised suicide bomb squads for the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban has established sanctuaries in the mountainous Babar area, 140 km northeast of Wana, the main city of the South Waziristan region, they said.
South Waziristan is controlled by the Pakistan Army, which operates under an uneasy truce with militants from the local Wazir tribe. Sunday’s strike followed the death of Mullah Nazir, a Waziri militant leader, on Wednesday. Nazir supported attacks on American forces in Afghanistan but had signed two peace deals with the Pakistan Army. On Sunday, thousands of his tribesmen protested against his killing. Many Pakistanis say drone strikes infringe the country’s sovereignty, and are angry over civilian casualties they cause. Others say the drones are the only way of targeting militants who terrorise the local population in areas the Pakistan Army is unwilling to patrol.
Drone strikes dramatically increased after US President Barack Obama took office in 2009. There were only five drone strikes in 2007, but the number rose to 117 in 2010 before declining to 46 last year. Exact casualty figures are difficult to verify. Most of those killed are militants, but some civilians have also been killed.
Meanwhile, 10 militants were killed and several others injured in security forces’ shelling in different areas of Upper Orakzai Agency. At least two militant hideouts were destroyed in the action on Sunday. According to details, jet fighters bombarded the suspected hideouts of extremists in the Agency. Two hideouts were destroyed in the shelling, killing 10 militants and injuring several others.
Local sources said that the death toll may rise further as many militants were reported to be buried under the rubble of the destroyed hideouts, while the condition of many of the injured was also serious. The security forces have accelerated their action against the militants in different areas of the troubled agency in recent days. Meanwhile, the militants have started moving to safer places in the wake of the surge in military operations. agencies