Suspected US drone attack in Pakistan kills at least seven Taliban
Monday's attack came amid discussion of doubling the US forces in Afghanistan by mid-2009.
Suspected US attacks by unmanned drones killed at least seven (some reports claim eight) suspected Taliban members in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan on Monday morning, according to Pakistani officials.Skip to next paragraph
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It's the latest in a series of such air attacks. US officials, citing policy, have refused to comment on most of the strikes.
The attacks are believed to be carried out by "Predator" unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely controlled from CIA. headquarters in the US, targeting Al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban militants from Afghanistan who are hiding out across the border in tight-knit tribal communities.
Pakistan has condemned the attacks as a violation of its sovereignty, and warned that they are counterproductive.
The airstrike came after a US commander on Saturday said Washington will deploy up to 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan by the middle of next year, in a mirror of the "surge" strategy that proved effective in Iraq.
Incoming US President Barack Obama has promised to draw down troops in Iraq and increase deployments in Afghanistan, according to The Boston Globe.
Three missiles reportedly targeted vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns, according to the sources. One missile missed its intended target and landed near a house.
The dead were suspected Taliban militants, a local intelligence official said.
Another local official said nine other militants were wounded in the attack.
The missile strikes took place Monday morning about nine miles (15 km) from the town of Wana in South Waziristan.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that the attacks started massive fires in two villages and sent residents fleeing in panic. Local residents later told AFP that hundreds of Taliban had gathered near the sites of the attacks for funeral prayers.
The suspected US strikes have continued despite a warning by Taliban militants based in tribal territory last month that any more would lead to reprisal attacks across Pakistan.
A missile attack late last month by a US jet killed Rashid Rauf, the alleged Al-Qaeda mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot, as well as an Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative, security officials have said.
The Voice of America (VOA) reported that media reports suggest the US has carried out some 30 air attacks in Pakistan this year. "The Pakistani government has publicly condemned the air strikes, saying they undermine Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts," the VOA reported.