Missile Attack in Pakistan
By ISMAIL KHAN, The New York Times, February 29, 2008
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Eight suspected Islamic militants, including four men of Middle Eastern origin and two from Central Asia, were killed early Thursday in a triple missile attack on a house used as a training facility in Pakistan’s tribal areas, a security official and residents said.
The missiles appeared to have been launched from territory controlled by NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan, the second deadly aerial strike in a month. Residents said three other occupants of the house were wounded in the strike, in the village of Kalosha in South Waziristan, one of the most restive tribal regions.
The security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of his job, said the dead had belonged to a little-known group affiliated with Al Qaeda, working under the name Abu Hamza.
Local residents said they had heard three loud explosions about 2 a.m. that destroyed the house. They said the three wounded occupants were from Turkmenistan.
They also said the house had belonged to Shero Wazir, an Ahmadzai Wazir tribesman who had rented it to an unidentified man of Arab nationality. They said they thought the launching site might have been an American NATO base in Machi Dat, just across the border in Afghanistan.
NATO officials in Afghanistan said they had no information about the attack. But this would not be the first time American-led NATO forces had launched missiles aimed at Qaeda and Taliban targets on the Pakistan side.
A senior Qaeda commander, Abu Laith al-Libi, was reportedly killed by a Predator missile in Mirali, North Waziristan, on Jan. 29. The Pakistan government has yet to officially confirm his death.
An official of the political administration of the tribal areas confirmed eight deaths in the Thursday attack, but did not identify any victims by name. He said four Arabs, two Turkmens and two Pakistani militants from Punjab Province had been killed, but others said it was difficult to know precisely who died.
The security official said the bodies were charred beyond recognition. They were buried at a graveyard in Kalosha. He said the destroyed house had been used as a training facility.
A spokesman for Maulvi Nazir, a local militant commander, denied that Arabs or Turkmens were killed in the attack, asserting instead that Afghans had died.
“They were common Afghans and have been living in the area for the last few years,” the spokesman said.
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