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U.S. drone strike kills 12 in Pakistan
Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:55am EDT
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By Haji Mujtaba
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles into Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Friday, killing at least a dozen people, Pakistani intelligence agency officials said.
The strike on Darpa Kheil village, about two km (one mile) from North Waziristan's main town of Miranshah, was the third such attack by a CIA-operated drone aircraft in Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal areas this month.
Pakistani and U.S. officials believe Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a similar strike in neighboring South Waziristan on August 5, although his men have denied that.
"The attack caused a huge explosion that forced our doors open," said a Reuters reporter in Miranshah.
He said drones were heard flying over the area after the blast.
An intelligence official in the region said 12 people were killed in the attack targeting a house while another put the death toll at 15 and said most were Afghans.
The first intelligence agency official said the dead included eight women and children.
The house was close to a sprawling madrasa, or religious school, set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former veteran Afghan militant commander who is also a senior Taliban leader.
Haqqani was in the past known to be close to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"WE TOOK OUT" MEHSUD
Pilotless U.S. drone aircraft attacked Haqqani's complex in September last year, killing 23 people, most of them members of his family.
Haqqani is now elderly and his son, Sirajuddin, is commanding his fighters, U.S. and Pakistani security officials say.
While Mehsud has focused his attacks against Pakistan and its security forces, Haqqani's fighters have concentrated their militant activity in Afghanistan, and are not known for attacks in Pakistan.
Both Pakistani and U.S. officials have said Mehsud was killed in the August 5 attack in his South Waziristan stronghold although neither government has officially confirmed his death.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday "we took out" Mehsud, who was blamed for a wave of bombings across Pakistan, including the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Continued...
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