PESHAWAR/WANA: Thirteen people, all suspected to be militants belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were killed and six others sustained injuries in a US drone attack on the small Bobar village near Shaktoi area of Ladha subdivision in South Waziristan on October 26.
Some reports said 22 people, including a close aide to TTP head Hakimullah Mahsud, and senior commander Taj Gul Mahsud were killed in the attack. Taj Gul Mahsud belonged to Srarogha area in South Waziristan and was considered to be a prominent commander of the TTP.
The close relatives of Commander Taj Gul Mahsud said in Tank district that they had also heard about his death in the drone attack, but they were waiting for confirmation. A tribal elder and close relative of Taj Gul argued they would have been informed by now had he died in the drone attack.
Security officials and tribal sources said the CIA-operated spy planes had carried out the attack on the evening of October 26, but it couldn’t be reported in time due to lack of communication in the far away mountainous area. They said people learnt about the drone attack on Friday when the bodies of the slain militants and the injured were brought to Mir Ali in North Waziristan.
Tribal sources said five among the slain militants belonged to Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan. Their bodies were taken to Miramshah on Friday and laid to rest in the village graveyard. Quoting the injured militants, the sources said the drone had attacked a compound of the militants belonging to the TTP. The drone, they said, had fired two missiles and struck the compound killing 12 people, all militants.
The dead and the injured were taken to Mir Ali via difficult and unfrequented mountain routes. According to sources, the attack took place near Zangara, where the TTP militants on September 18 claimed to have shot down a drone. Pakistani military authorities, however, had rejected the claim and insisted that the US spy plane crashed due to technical fault. Zangara is the same village where the TTP founder, Baitullah Mahsud, was killed in a US drone attack on August 6, 2009.
The militants were earlier driven out of the area when the Pakistan Army launched a major military operation against them on October 17, 2009, but most of them later returned and set up sanctuaries in the mountains. Some of the Mahsud tribal families displaced due to the military operation had now returned to their homes and villages in the area. The TTP spokesman could not be approached for his version of the incident.