12 killed in US airstrike in Pakistan: officials (Lead)

November 14th, 2008 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Nov 14 (DPA) An airstrike by a US drone aircraft killed 12 people Friday in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region, Pakistani officials said.The pre-dawn attack targeted a militant hideout in Waladeen, a remote village some 75 km west of Miranshah, main town of Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal district, a known hub of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

“The attack killed 12 people and wounded at least four others,” a security official said on the condition of anonymity.

At least two missiles struck the house of tribesman Ameer Gul near the border between the North and South Waziristan districts at around 1:45 a.m., destroying the structure.

Gul was believed to have links with Taliban militants, who routinely carry out cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan. Gul was killed in the airstrike, according to the official.

Another official in the region said at least five foreigners, a term locally used to describe Arab and Central Asian militants, were among the dead.

The attack came as General David McKiernan, commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, visited Islamabad.

On Thursday evening, McKiernan briefed a select group of Pakistani lawmakers on the security situation along the Afghan frontier, media reports said.

The briefing session, that took place at the residence of US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson in Islamabad, earlier drew criticism in the Senate, the upper house of Pakistan’s bicameral parliament, as it was not coordinated with the country’s foreign ministry.

Some of the invitees boycotted the event that was described as a “discretionary exercise”.

Friday’s drone attack was the latest in a series of airstrikes by US-operated pilot-less aircraft on militants hiding in Pakistan’s tribal region close to the Afghan border. Dozens of people, including several non-combatants, have been killed in the attacks.

Pakistan, a key US ally, has been angered by the intensified airstrikes in its tribal region, warning such actions would prove “counterproductive” in the fight against terrorism. It has repeatedly said the country’s territorial integrity must be respected.

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