Missiles strike militant compound in Pakistan: officials
Missiles destroyed a suspected militant hideout near the Afghan border in Pakistan Wednesday where foreign insurgents were known to frequent, killing at least five people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
Four intelligence officials told the Associated Press the missiles destroyed a compound near Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal region. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because none are authorized to speak to the media.
There was no claim of responsibility for the apparent attack. However, U.S. forces operate aircraft armed with missiles along the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border.
Initial reports from the area indicated between five and 10 people were killed and several others wounded, they said, but there were no details about the identity of the victims. Foreign militants were known to frequent the compound in the village of Zari Noor, two of the officials said.
Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas confirmed there was an explosion, but said he could not give any details until the army investigated. Militants have cordoned off the area, he said, making the job difficult.
Waliur Rehman, a shopkeeper in Wana, said he heard the familiar sound of a drone at about 7:30 p.m. followed by two explosions.
"The planes are still in the air. People are scared and are staying indoors," Rehman told the AP by telephone.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said he had no information on the incident.
Area considered Taliban, al-Qaeda sanctuary
Pakistan's tribal regions such as South Waziristan are believed to provide sanctuary to pro-Taliban insurgents fighting in Afghanistan as well as members of al-Qaeda. Both Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding in the rugged and lawless tribal regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Last week, a suspected U.S. missile strike on a militant training camp in another area of South Waziristan killed at least nine people, including foreigners, Pakistani officials said.
Similar strikes have killed at least two senior al-Qaeda militants inside Pakistan this year, including an Egyptian explosives and poisons expert, Abu Khabab al-Masri, who died in a strike in late July.
The missile strikes, however, have strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.
Wednesday's reported strike came as a power struggle intensified in Pakistan days after Pervez Musharraf's resignation from the presidency, with a major opposition party backing former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's widower to become the country's next leader.