WANA, March 16: At least nine people were killed and nine others wounded when a US plane hit a mud-compound in South Waziristan’s regional headquarters of Wana on Sunday afternoon, a security official said.
He said that the plane had hit the compound, barely one kilometre from the main regional market, with what appeared to be three precision bombs at around 3.10pm. “The adjoining houses largely escaped the damage,” the official said.
Among those killed in the attack included a man of Middle-Eastern origin, two men from the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan and six non-locals, an allusion to Pakistanis from the Punjab, the official said.
Local people said that the house had been rented out to ‘non-local’ people about a year ago and about 20 non-local people lived there.
Among the nine wounded in the bombing were two Arabic-speaking men and seven non-locals from Punjab.
None of those killed and wounded included the so-called high-value targets, local residents and security officials said.
US and Nato forces deployed in Afghanistan have carried out attacks on targets in the tribal region in the past, killing several top militant commanders. A large number of civilians have also been killed in such attacks.
About a month ago, a senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Laith al-Libi was killed in an air strike in Mirali area of North Waziristan. A house was hit by a mortar shell near the Afghan border in the same region last week, killing four women and two children. Allied forces in Kabul claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sunday’s attack targeted the house of Mohammad Yousuf who had rented it out to Arabs about a year ago. The house was completely destroyed.
Initial reports said that three missiles fired from an aircraft had destroyed the house. These reports also said that 18 people had been killed and 14 injured.
Most of the victims were non-locals and belonged to Arab countries, an official said, adding that the house was being used as a training camp for militants. There were no women or children in the house.
Witnesses said that militants cordoned off the area immediately after the attack. Eight charred bodies were taken out of the rubble of the house.
“Parts of bodies were stuffed into bags and buried in a nearby graveyard by local militants,” a tribesman said.
One of the injured told a local doctor at the hospital that some 42 people had been in the house at the time of the attack.
Our Tank Correspondent adds: A spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud on Sunday warned of fresh attacks if the government did not stop military operation in the region.Maulvi Umar described suicide attacks in Lahore and Islamabad as a reaction to the ongoing army operation in the area and said that security forces should halt the operation.
AGENCIES ADD: Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said there were reports of blasts and some casualties in the area and the military was checking.
The spokesman said that Pakistani forces had not carried out any operation in the area and he did not know who had carried out the strike or what type of weapon was used.
Maj Chris Belcher, a US military spokesman in Afghanistan, said coalition forces conducted an operation on Sunday in Paktika province, which lies just across the border from South Waziristan. He said he had no information about the Pakistan strike and that he doubted the two incidents were related.
A local tribesman in the area said he saw drones overhead just before the attack.
Rahim Khan said that the home of local militant leader and Taliban sympathiser Noorullah had been destroyed.
He said the house, a huge, fortress-like compound, was known as a hub for foreign militants.
Two Pakistani intelligence officials in the area, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said another house nearby was also destroyed. Arab and Uzbek militants had been staying in the house, they said.