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US double blow kills 21 in Waziristan

November 01, 2008


MIRAMSHAH / WANA, Oct 31: An Al Qaeda militant was among at least 21 people killed in two missile attacks by US drones in North and South Waziristan on Friday night.

According to a security official, Iraqi national Abdur Rehman Abu Akash was among 20 people killed in the attack on the house of a cleric in Asori village in North Waziristan.

“He was involved in cross-border movement and attacks carried out with explosive devices. He belonged to Al Qaeda but was not a significant leader,” the official said.Local people said two missiles hit the compound of Maulvi Amanullah of Dawar tribe, four kilometres south of Mirali. A vehicle, stated to be of Abu Akash, parked outside the compound was destroyed.

They said Abu Akash had come to the place but they were not sure if he was there at the time of the attack.

They said drones had been buzzing overhead throughout the day and residents had fired at them with light and heavy weapons.

“Two loud explosions were heard in Asori village while drones were flying over the area,” said a villager. He said rescue efforts were under way and the death toll could rise.

A son of Abu Akash was killed with Al Qaeda leader Abu Hamza Rabia in a missile attack in the same village on Nov 30, 2005.

Abu Akash was also known as Haji Akasha Khan and Iraqi Malang. He spoke Pashto fluently.

Sources said Abu Akash was Al Qaeda’s chief of financial affairs in the region and had set up his headquarters in Mirali subdivision. In a video released in April this year he had stated that Jihad against the United States would continue in the region.

He had arrived in Afghanistan in 1996 and had moved to Mirali area before the 9/11 attacks. He was a known figure in the area and for some time also directed traffic and fined erring motorists.

Local people said he had been keeping a low profile since the signing of a peace agreement between local tribes and the government in September 2006.

He is reported to have developed differences with local Taliban leader Maulvi Sadiq Noor who objected to his interference in the affairs of the tribes. An exchange of fire had also taken place between their supporters. The differences were resolved by some Taliban figures.

Soon after the missile attack in Asori village, two missiles hit a residential compound near Wana in South Waziristan.

Sources said the missiles struck the house of one Sher Zaman in Doug area near the Scouts camp, leaving one person dead and two others injured.

There were unconfirmed reports about presence in the compound of pro-government Taliban commander for South Waziristan, Maulvi Mohammad Nazir.

AFP adds: A security official said 12 suspected militants, among them foreigners, had been killed in the South Waziristan attack.