PESHAWAR, July 28: A missile apparently fired from a Predator drone killed at least six people on Monday in a compound in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border.
A security official said the strike might have killed a senior Al Qaeda trainer known for his expertise in chemicals. The official put the death toll at 12.
“Our report suggests that the missile strike might have killed Abu Khabab Al Misri. But it remains unconfirmed,” the official cautioned.
The 55-year-old Midhat Mursi As-Sayid Umar alias Abu Khabab was earlier reported to have been killed in a US missile strike in Bajaur’s Damadola area in Jan 2006. However, later reports showed that he was not among those killed.
He was a trainer at an Al Qaeda facility in Darunta, near Jalalabad, in the late 1990s.
A graduate in science from an Egyptian university, Abu Khabab was considered to be an expert in conventional explosives and some western media reports said he headed a project named Al Zabadi, or ‘curdled milk’, for making chemical and biological weapons.
The US had offered a $5 million reward on information leading to his capture.
A military spokesman declined to comment. “There is a problem at the local level. We have not received a detailed report. No one has been able to reach there and get details of the information. Therefore, I cannot really make a comment,” Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told Dawn.
A resident of Wana said two missiles struck a seminary and an adjoining compound in the Zyara Leetha area of Azam Warsak early in the morning, killing six people and wounding a woman and her two children.
He said tribal militants immediately encircled the scene of the attack and kept locals at bay. “We are not being allowed to go near the site.”
A local militant commander, Maulvi Nazir, said the strike had left seven people dead. Among them were the head of a seminary and students, he said.
Sources said the woman and two children wounded in the missile strike were the wife and children of Abu Khabab. They said others killed in the strike included Mohammad Hudaifa, Khalid Al Misri and two Saudi citizens. The information could not be verified by independent sources.