By Shaiq Hussain
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, October 24, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 23 -- At least 10 people were killed and six others injured in a suspected U.S. missile strike Thursday in Pakistan's restive tribal region, intelligence officials and an eyewitness said.
The attack apparently targeted a madrassa, or religious school, operated by Taliban commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to a Pakistani intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. It took place in North Waziristan, an area known to be a haven for al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents.
The official said reports from the scene suggested that all those killed in the attack were local Pakistanis, not foreign fighters. Another intelligence official confirmed the attack and said the death toll could be higher than 10 because some bodies were believed to be buried under the rubble. He said that the Taliban had cordoned off the village soon after the attack and that no one from outside was being allowed to enter the area.
The missile strike was apparently the latest in a string of attacks carried out by U.S. drone aircraft on Pakistani soil. The attacks have led to increased tension between Washington and Islamabad.
Naimatullah Wazir, a resident of the North Waziristan town of Miran Shah, said that the school was almost destroyed by the missile strike and that rising smoke could be seen for miles around. He said that those killed in the attack included teachers and students.
Taliban commanders such as Haqqani have long used madrassas as training grounds for fighters who then carry out attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The latest missile strike came hours after the passage of a unanimous resolution by the Pakistani Parliament demanding an end to U.S attacks in the tribal areas.
"The nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively," the statement said.
U.S. officials have said the attacks are needed because the Pakistani military has been either unable or unwilling to go after certain insurgent leaders and their networks of fighters.