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Barrage of US missiles kills 50 in S Waziristan

The Nation, Pakistan

July 8, 2009

PESHAWAR - Two deadly separate US missile strikes slammed into South Waziristan Agency, a stronghold of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Chief Baitullah Mehsud, on Wednesday, killing 50 suspected militants, security officials said.
In the first attack, an alleged training compound of Baitullah Mehsud at Karwan Manza area was targeted with six missiles, while the second strike was carried out when a militants’ convoy of five vehicles was hit by three missiles in Sararogha tehsil wherein around 40 militants were killed.

The independent sources informed that six persons were killed in the first attack while officials in Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan Agency, said that from 8 to 10 militants were killed. The tribesmen loyal to Baitullah Mehsud claimed that no one was present in the compound.

The local tribesmen informed that soon after the missile attack, the site was cordoned off by the militants. The militants undertook the rescue activities on their own and shifted the dead bodies to an unknown place.

Reuters and AFP add: The Pakistan Army is preparing an offensive against Mehsud, who the military says is responsible for 90 per cent of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The government said he plotted the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
A drone fired several missiles at a militant convoy in the second attack of the day, Pakistani intelligence officials said. The missiles hit the convoy of vehicles carrying suspected Taliban near South Waziristan’s Janata village, about 50km northwest of the main district town of Wana.

"The Taliban appeared to be shifting to another place when they were hit," said one of the intelligence agency officials. He and another intelligence official, as well as residents, said at least 40 Taliban were killed.

Earlier on Wednesday, US drones fired six missiles into an alleged Pakistani Taliban training camp in another part of South Waziristan, killing ten suspected militants, government and intelligence agency officials said, flattening the alleged training centre.

There were no reports of any "high-value target" being killed in either of the drone attacks.

The first strike hit about 35km northeast of the main town Wana, with two officials confirming the death toll of ten.

Two other security officials confirmed the strikes and casualties, with one telling AFP that the death toll could still rise further.
Our Monitoring Desk adds: In the first attack, missiles hit the thickly-forested and mountainous Karwan Manza area, some 10km south-east of Ladha, completely destroying a Taliban hideout, reports BBC.

In the second attack, five missiles were fired at vehicles carrying suspected Taliban on the main road between Ladha and another town, Sararogha, according to local officials.
They said all the vehicles were destroyed and the dead were mostly Taliban, as well as members of banned militant organisations from Pakistan’s Punjab province.

According to BBC, the militants targeted in the double strike were loyal to Baitullah Mehsud.

On Tuesday, a US missile strike killed 16 foreign and local militants in a nearby mountain stronghold of Mehsud, who has been described by the US State Department as a key Al-Qaeda facilitator in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
Washington alleges terrorists hide out in the mountains near the Afghan border, plotting attacks on Western targets and crossing the porous frontier to attack foreign troops based in Afghanistan.
Mehsud has a five-million-dollar reward on his head offered by the United States, and a bounty of 615,000 dollars in Pakistan for allegedly masterminding multiple deadly bombings in the last two years.






:: Article nr. 55790 sent on 08-jul-2009 23:09 ECT

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Link: www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online//Politics/09-Jul-
   2009/Barrage-of-US-missiles-kills-50-in-S-Waziristan




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