Missile Strike in South Waziristan Kills Dozens of Taliban Suspects

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Missiles fired by a suspected CIA drone aircraft yesterday struck a funeral attended by Taliban militants in South Waziristan, killing dozens in what is thought to be the deadliest such attack since the U.S. government began its covert campaign against Pakistan-based fighters last summer.

U.S. officials confirmed that the missile strike had killed what one source described as "a large number" of suspected Taliban fighters, though exact numbers were not immediately available. Local media accounts put the toll at 52, a figure that U.S. officials did not dispute.

As many as four missiles were fired at the gathering by what appeared to be an unmanned Predator aircraft in the Makeen area of South Waziristan, near the Afghan border. Previous strikes in the region have been attributed to the CIA, though the spy agency has not acknowledged conducting any such attacks inside Pakistan.

The strike occurred late yesterday as Taliban fighters gathered to bury comrades who reportedly had been killed in a similar attack earlier in the day. U.S. officials with access to sensitive intelligence said all the victims appeared to be members of militant groups.

-- Joby Warrick

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