Suspected US drone attack kills at least fourteen in Pakistan

Thursday, January 14, 2010

North and South Waziristan, Pakistan
Image: Thaddeus P. Bejnar.

A drone attack, suspected to have been made by US forces, killed at least twelve people and injured a further fourteen in northwestern Pakistan earlier today, although some reports put the death toll as high as eighteen. The attack hit a militant training camp on the border between Pakistan's North and South Waziristan tribal region.

Pakistani officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believe the target was Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud; however, it was not immediately clear whether Mehsud was killed.

"We had information that he [Mehsud] was around there. We're checking on whether he was killed," said an unnamed official.

A spokesman for the Taliban, however, told Pakistan's Dawn TV that Mehsud had left a few minutes before the strike, and was still alive and safe.

It is, however, difficult to verify such claims, as the area is largely autonomous and believed to be a sanctuary for al-Qaeda and Taliban members. Suspected US missile strikes in Pakistan's northwest have killed several rebel leaders, including the previous head of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, in mid-2009.