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10 Taliban killed in drone attack

August 12, 2009

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WANA, Aug 11 A US drone fired missiles into a suspected Taliban hideout in the Sam area of South Waziristan on Tuesday, killing 10 militants.

According to officials, this was the same area where another drone attack last week resulted in the reported death of Baitullah Mehsud.

An official said the house attacked on Tuesday was owned by Abdur Rahim Berki known to have links with the Baitullah Mehsud group and served as a training facility.

Sources said the place was frequented by foreign militants. They said that 10 local militants were killed in the attack.

Taliban sources, however, claimed that the house belonged to a tribesman and the missile attack killed 'innocent people'. They said that a woman and a child were among the dead.

Sam is considered to be a stronghold of the Baitullah group.

Agencies add The missiles targeted a house where militants were being trained near the village of Ladda, in the heart of the Mehsud tribe's territory, officials said.

Hamdullah Mehsud, a resident, said three missiles hit the large high-walled house.

“So far, eight bodies have been pulled out of the rubble,” he told Reuters. Five people were injured, he added.

It's very difficult to independently verify claims and counter-claims because Mehsud tribal lands are very remote and under the control of the Taliban.

US officials stuck to their belief that Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed last week, amid reports a CIA drone fired missiles at him as he was getting a leg massage on the roof of his father-in-law's house.

A US counter-terrorism official told AFP on Monday that “there are strong indications (Mehsud) is dead”.

“No one is expecting him home for dinner tonight,” the official said.

US President Barack Obama is being told Baitullah was killed after a “dramatic escalation” of an aerial surveillance, with nine unmanned drones assigned to target the Taliban leader, a US official told CNN television.

On Wednesday night, US surveillance in Pakistan spied a man on the roof of Baitullah's father-in-law's home.

The description was of a “short, stocky man who was following the physical description” of Baitullah, CNN said, citing the intelligence official.

A woman was massaging the man's leg and the Central Intelligence Agency knew Baitullah had diabetes, experienced pain in his legs, and often sought relief in that way, the report said.

Officials already had authorisation from President Obama to strike Baitullah if they thought they had a clear shot.

“That's when the CIA decided to move in,” the network reported.