(AFP) – Mar 16, 2008
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — At least 16 people were killed when a missile struck a suspected militant compound in a lawless Pakistani tribal area on the Afghan border Sunday, residents and state television said.
Residents said they heard several blasts after several missiles fired from an unknown site hit the home of a local tribesman in a village near Wana, the main town in the tribal district of South Waziristan.
Foreigners linked with Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants were believed to be staying at the compound in Doog village, the residents said.
"Militants have cordoned the blast site and are taking out bodies from the rubble," one local tribesman told AFP.
"The missile has left only part of a boundary wall intact and turned the compound into a pile of debris," he said.
"Body parts were flung into the air and were lying in nearby farmlands," he added.
Pakistan's chief military spokesman major general Athar Abbas said that he had received reports about blasts, but had no details about casualties yet.
"We are trying to get more details," Abbas told AFP.
US drones have launched several strikes on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border targeting members of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, but Islamabad never confirms such attacks due to sensitivities over national soverreignty.
Earlier this year, President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally, said that unauthorised military actions on Pakistani soil would be treated as an invasion.
Last month, a suspected US missile strike destroyed an Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideout in Azam Warsak village in South Waziristan, killing 13 alleged militants including several Arabs.
In January, a missile strike attributed to the United States killed senior Al-Qaeda commander Abu Laith al-Libi in neighbouring North Waziristan.
South Waziristan is also the base of Baitullah Mehsud, an Al-Qaeda-linked warlord accused by Pakistan of masterminding the December slaying of former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Mehsud has denied any involvement in Bhutto's killing.
The Pakistani-Afghan border has been wracked by fighting since US-led forces invaded Afghanistan in late 2001 to oust the hardline Taliban regime following the September 11 attacks on the United States.
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