Suspected US airstrike in Pakistan kills three (Second Lead)

April 19th, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 19 (DPA) A suspected US missile strike in Pakistan’s troubled South Waziristan tribal district near Afghan border Sunday killed at least three people, officials said.
Two missiles, believed to have been fired from a US-operated Predator drone, hit a house in Gangikhel village, just outside the district’s main town of Wana.

“Three suspected militants were killed and five more were wounded in successive explosions,” an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

Government administrators said the aerial raid targeted the house of a local tribesman allegedly having links with Taliban militants. The entire structure and a vehicle inside the compound were destroyed in the attack.

Identities of the dead were not immediately known.

Private television channels put the death toll as high as eight while citing unnamed sources.

South Waziristan is the stronghold of top militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, who is blamed for a series of bombings on security forces and government functionaries.

Mehsud has repeatedly vowed to avenge the US attacks, which he says are being carried out with the involvement of Pakistani security forces.

Sunday’s missile strike came a day after Mehsud claimed responsibility for a revenge suicide car bombing on a military checkpoint in the north-western Hangu district Saturday that killed 25 security personnel and two civilians. More than 60 people were also injured.

The US has intensified its missile strikes by pilotless aircraft in recent months, saying militant sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal region must be eliminated to control the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

More than 350 people, including a large number of non-combatants, have been killed in around three dozen US missile strikes inside Pakistan since August 2008.

Islamabad opposes the drone attacks, stressing that those were proving “counterproductive” by flaring up anti-American sentiment among the people.

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