MIRAMSHAH / PESHAWAR, Jan 7: Eight paramilitary troops and eight civilians were killed and nine others wounded in two attacks in the North Waziristan Agency on Friday night, official sources said.
The sources said that 11 paramilitary soldiers were missing, apparently being held hostage by militants.
Officials said that the residential compound of a local cleric came under a missile attack in Saidgi area near the Afghan border, killing eight people and wounding nine.
The victims included women and children of the same family, sources said.
Officials and area people said that two US helicopters were seen hovering over the area before the house of Maulvi Noor Mohammad was blown up in Saidgi, about 5km from the Afghan border.
“One of the helicopters hovered above while the other fired a missile,” these sources said.
Military spokesman Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan confirmed casualties.
“Of course, we have reports about the casualties in Saidgi, but it is yet to be established whether US helicopters were involved in the attack,” he told Dawn on Saturday.
Local tribal elder Momin Khan said that before the missile attack some US troops riding five vehicles had intruded into the Pakistani territory from the Khost province past midnight.
“The intruders besieged a cluster of mud houses and took away two tribesmen after a brief search operation in the area,” Momin Khan said.
After an hour, he said, a helicopter crossed over into the tribal area from Afghanistan and fired a missile, hitting the house of Maulvi Noor Mohammad.
Officials said that two women, one child and five men were killed in the attack.
“The helicopter fired one missile, which completely destroyed the house,” said another official source.
A doctor at a hospital in Miramshah, headquarters of the North Waziristan Agency, said that the wounded had received multiple shrapnel injuries, but their condition was stable.
The area people said that paramilitary forces had conducted a raid on Maulvi Noor Muhammad’s house on Thursday, but failed to recover anything.
The cleric was suspected of providing shelter to militants who crossed over into Afghanistan to attack the US-led coalition forces.
In the other incident on Friday night, eight Frontier Corpse soldiers were killed and 11 others went missing when militants attacked a check-post in Mirali Tehsil.
Officials said that militants attacked the troops in Eisokhel village, East of Miramshah. The militants fired rockets and used heavy and light machineguns in the attack on the check-post near Khaisaro bridge on the Mirali-Bannu Road.
A captain, a subedar and a naib subedar of the Touchi Scouts were among the dead.
On Saturday, two helicopter gunships fired rockets on some houses in the Eisokhel village in which one Khasadar and three tribesmen were wounded.
The Khasadar identified as Mohibullah later succumbed to injuries in a hospital, doctors said.
Maj-Gen Sultan said that the security forces invariably launched follow-up attacks after such incidents. He did not give details.
Sources said that before the helicopter gunships’ attack the local authorities had given two hours to villagers to vacate their houses. The helicopters targeted hilltops and some houses in the area.
AGENCIES ADD: Talking about the militants’ attack on the check-post, Maj-Gen Sultan said: “Miscreants attacked a newly set-up paramilitary post near Mir Ali last night which resulted in the deaths of eight security officials.”
He said nine paramilitary soldiers went missing after the attack, but three returned on Saturday. “Six are still missing we hope they will be back soon.”