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13 Killed In U.S. Attack In Pakistan Targeting Taliban Commander


Jalaluddin Haqqani

Jalaluddin Haqqani

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) -- Missiles fired by U.S. drones killed 13 people, including seven foreign militants, in a Pakistani village where a religious school founded by an old friend of Osama bin Laden is located, intelligence officials and witnesses said.

"There were two drones and they fired three missiles," said a resident of Dandi Darpakheil, a village near Miranshah, main town of the North Waziristan tribal region.

A military official said a house and madrasah founded by Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani were the targets.

An intelligence official said six civilians and seven foreign militants had been killed in the attack, but the nationality of the foreigners could not immediately be established.

Fifteen to 20 wounded people, most of them women and children, had been taken to main hospital of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, doctors said.

One of Haqqani's younger sons said his father and son Sirajuddin had been away from the house at the time.

'They Are Alive'

While the senior Haqqani is believed to be in poor health and less active, Sirajuddin has been leading the Taliban faction.

"Haqqani and Sirajuddin were in Afghanistan at the time of the attack. They are alive," Badruddin, the commander's third son, told Reuters by telephone.

Badruddin said one of his aunts had been killed in the attack on the family home. He said six missiles had struck the house, which the family had owned for 30 years.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas confirmed that an "incident" had taken place in North Waziristan and its cause was being ascertained.

Haqqani is a veteran commander of the U.S.-backed Afghan war against Soviet invasion in the 1970s and 1980s, and his links with bin Laden go back to the late 80s.

Close Links With ISI


Haqqani also has had close links with Pakistani intelligence agencies, notably the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

"The New York Times" reported in July that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had given Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani evidence of the ISI's involvement with Haqqani along with evidence of ISI connections to a suicide bombing at the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed nearly 60 people on July 7.

Coalition forces in Afghanistan have stepped up crossborder attacks in recent weeks against Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistani tribal areas.

U.S. commandos carried out a helicopter-borne ground assault in the neighboring South Waziristan region on September 3 in what was the first known incursion into Pakistan by U.S. troops since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Furious Response

Pakistani officials said 20 people, including women and children, had been killed in the attack, which drew a furious response from the government.

A day later, four Islamist militants were killed and five wounded in a missile attack in North Waziristan, believed to have been launched by a U.S. drone aircraft.

Intelligence officials and witnesses said five people had been killed in another suspected drone attack on September 5, but the Pakistan military denied it.

Pakistani anger over the U.S. commando raid and repeated territorial violations prompted the government to partially block supply lines to Western forces in landlocked Afghanistan on September 6.

Rehman Malik, the top Interior Ministry official, said the road was unblocked after a few hours, and traffic had only been halted for security reasons. The country's defense minister had earlier said the action was taken in response to the violations by Western forces.
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