20 killed by US airstrike in Pakistan

October 4th, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Oct 4 (DPA) Pakistani security officials said Saturday at least half a dozen Al Qaeda fighters were among more than 20 people killed in US missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region.Two Hellfire missiles fired by a drone aircraft hit a house in Mohammad Khel village, 25 km west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, late Friday.

Around half a dozen Al Qaeda members of Arab origin and several Taliban militants were invited to dinner by the owners of the house - two brothers identified as Daud Jan and Abdur Rehman - when the attack took place, a local security official said.

Both were Afghan nationals who had settled in the area 30 years ago. Daud Jan, his four sons and two nephews also died in the strike, the official said.

Army’s chief spokesman Major General Athar Abbas confirmed that more than 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the attack.

Scores of heavily armed Taliban militants sealed off the site and moved the bodies of Arabs to an undisclosed location.

The attack was the latest in an intensified US campaign of strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region at Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, who launch cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

Four days ago, two missiles fired from a US drone killed six people in North Waziristan, which borders Afghan province of Khost.

Islamabad, a key US ally in the fight against Muslim extremists, has openly criticized Washington for the strikes and insisted only its forces had right to target militants on its soil.

The US cross-border offensive against militants, which are currently taking place almost every other day, have also fuelled public anger and the Pakistani government is facing growing calls to abandon the alliance with the United States.

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