PESHAWAR: Sixteen people, including two fighters of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were killed on Wednesday in the deadliest US drone strike in three months.
About six missiles were fired at a compound in Babar Ghar area in Sararogha Tehsil of South Waziristan Agency, killing 15 to 18 fighters, security officials said.
Local officials said that the territory belongs to the Mehsud tribe. The official added that about 25 TTP militants were reported to have been hiding in the area.
Taliban sources confirmed that there were two militant training centres in the area run by Abdul Nasir and Abdul Mukhlis.
The TTP has a strong hold in the Saktoi area, which is located between South Waziristan and North Waziristan and has hardly any link or communication from outside.
“The target was a base of the Pakistan Taliban. We have reports that 16 to 18 militants were killed,” a security official told AFP in Peshawar. An official in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, also confirmed that a TTP base was destroyed and said there were reports that “some foreigners” were also killed. The word “foreigner” is typically used to denote al Qaeda and Uzbek militants.
“It was a Taliban base. They were using this place as a training camp, to keep weapons and to take shelter,” the Wana official said. “The drones came almost at the same time,” he added.
Officials said the attacks came minutes apart at around 2:30 am about three kilometres from the border of Afghanistan’s Paktia province.
Wednesday’s strike was the 63rd so far this year, according to an AFP tally. A similar strike, in neighbouring North Waziristan, had killed 21 fighters in the Afghan Taliban Haqqani faction on August 10.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2011.