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Soldiers, govt officials searching for debris narrowly escape US attack
 
 
Malik Mumtaz Khan
Monday, February 27, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

MIRAMSHAH: Around 400 Pakistani soldiers and dozens of political administration officials in North Waziristan’s Mir Ali subdivision narrowly escaped a drone attack on Saturday night when a missile fired by a spy plane hit the wreckage of the US drone that had crashed in the area on Saturday.

 

“We were looking for the wreckage of the drone in Machikhel village, Mir Ali, and were almost close to the debris of the destroyed aircraft when one of the drones flying over the area fired a missile and hit two missiles lying on the ground,” a senior official of the local administration said.

 

He said that besides 400 Pakistan Army soldiers, there were dozens of personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC), Khassadars and Levies as well as officials of the political administration, all of them looking for the missing wreckage of the drone on ground at the time. He said they narrowly escaped as the missile fired by the drone landed at a short distance from them. “It would have caused heavy losses to security forces and others engaged in the search operation. They were lucky to survive,” the official said.

 

Another security official said they had lit the area with big lights to let the people and militants know that security forces were searching for the missing wreckage when five drones started flying over the area. “They decided not to get close to the area where the wreckage was supposed to be lying due to the fear of missile attack,” the official said. He said some of the people even remarked that one should expect anything from the US and suggested not to go beyond a certain position as it could be risky, especially when the drones were flying over their heads.

 

An official of the political administration said local militants were believed to have fired and shot down the spy plane and even reached there to get hold of some of its wreckage before the government officials could arrive in the village.

 

The tribal sources said the militants were congratulating one another for downing the CIA-operated spy plane. The North Waziristan Taliban, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, last year made a claim that their fighters had shot down a US drone in the Dattakhel area and later rewarded the shooter with a car.