PESHAWAR: The Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan on Thursday claimed to have shot down a US drone near the Afghan border, but local tribesmen insisted the unmanned spy aircraft crashed apparently due to technical fault and militants then seized its wreckage.
Tribal sources said the US drone crashed at around 9:00pm Thursday night and its wreckage fell in Kaja Panga village in Birmal subdivision of the volatile South Waziristan region close to the area bordering Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
According to villagers in Kaja Panga, around two dozen armed militants belonging to Commander Shamsullah’s group arrived in the area and started search for the wreckage.
The militants, the villagers said, later found wreckage of the drone and shifted it to an unknown location in two pickup trucks.The villagers said the militants told them that they had shot down the US drone by firing at it with their anti-aircraft guns.
“I don’t believe they would have shot it down as we could not hear any firing before the drone fell on the ground. The militants later started celebratory firing when they found its wreckage,” a tribesman based in the nearby Azam Warsak village said on condition of anonymity.
When reached by telephone, a senior government official based in South Waziristan’s headquarters Wana said they had heard similar reports but would neither confirm nor deny it as the government has no physical presence in the area where the drone was reported to have crashed.
AFP adds from Peshawar: Security officials said a Pakistani reconnaissance drone crashed in South Waziristan after developing a technical fault.
The unmanned military aircraft was on a surveillance mission when it came down on Thursday night in Azam Warsak area, a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.Another official confirmed the crash and said that Taliban militants surrounded the site and later took possession of the wreckage.