(AFP) – Aug 20, 2008
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Missiles fired from Afghanistan hit a militant hideout in Pakistan's tribal belt Wednesday, killing at least eight people including some foreign extremists, security officials said.
The strike in the South Waziristan region was the first since key US ally Pervez Musharraf resigned as president on Monday and left Pakistan's recently elected government in charge of tackling the militants.
Two missiles hit a house owned by a local tribesman with links to Islamic militants in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, a known haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels, the officials said.
"It was a known hideout for militants. At least eight people were killed and some foreign militants are among them," one security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"The missiles came from Afghanistan," the official said.
Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said that there were reports of an explosion at a house in Wana and also casualties but he had no confirmed details.
"What report we have received is that there is an explosion in a house in Wana. There are also casualties, but we do not have any confirmation. It is also not confirmed whether it was a missile," Abbas told AFP.
Residents said the owner of the house, named as Haji Yaqub, was wounded and was pulled from the rubble, but people were scared to stay in the area because aircraft were flying overhead.
"Arabs often stayed with him (Yaqub)," one resident said.
Pakistani authorities use the term foreigners to describe Al-Qaeda militants. Security officials said there were no immediate indications that senior Al-Qaeda rebels were killed in the latest strike.
There has been a series of missile attacks on militants in Pakistan in recent weeks attributed to US-led coalition forces or Central Intelligence Agency drones based in Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda chemical and biological weapons expert Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar was killed in a similar missile attack in July. The Egyptian, 54, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, had a five-million-dollar bounty on his head.
Pakistan has come under mounting international pressure to clamp down on militants in the rugged tribal belt who are accused of launching attacks on US-led and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
US missile strikes have intensified this year and reports in US media have said that Washington is considering a further boost in operations, possibly including "hot pursuit" raids by ground forces.
A suspected US missile strike on an Islamist training camp in South Waziristan a week ago killed at least 10 militants
During talks with US President George W. Bush last month, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called on the United States not to act "unilaterally" against Islamic militants in Pakistan.
The government launched negotiations with the Taliban earlier this year but has since launched several military operations, including an ongoing offensive in the Bajaur tribal region which has left around 500 people dead.
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