Third Missile Strike in South Waziristan Kills 20

missile-strike-south-of-wana.jpgTwenty 16 were killed in a three to seven missile strike two kilometers south of Wana in Pakistan’s South Waziristan Tribal Region. The strikes hit in the village of Shahnawaz Kheil Dhoog,  in the South Waziristan region near the Afghanistan border.

Click on the thumbnail for a google-earth snapshot of the area I believe the missile struck. The Wana airport is at the north middle edge of the picture.

This is the area Baitullah Mehsud and Tehreek-e-Taliban operates from, and some believe leaders from Al Qaeda are also in this area. At this time it’s unknown who was hit, but some “foreign nationals” are reported as dead. This will be billed by some locals as civilians regardless of who was struck.

Baitullah Mehsud is suspect #1 for the assasination of Ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and it’s also usual at this time of year for extremists and militants of all stripes to gather in the region for cross-border strikes into Afghanistan.

Reuters is reporting that “Eight Foreigners and four of their supporters” were killed.

BBC Update states 16 killed, and that “militants” have cordoned off the area to collect bodies. Like the last strike, they will quickly bury the dead in hidden locations and we probably will not get a confirm on who was killed.

Yesterday’s blast at the restaurant in Islamabad could have upped the stakes, and it’s clear that with the government of Pakistan in flux that the ISAF forces to the North are taking the opportunity to hit the enemy when and where they can.  More on the restaurant bombing at The Nation. 

[Note about the government in flux: post-election designation of the PM candidate for PPP has caused a schism in the party between Zardari and Fahim factions over who’s going to which position, as Zardari’s corruption cases are set aside it appears more likely that Fahim will be set aside. There’s also behind the scenes jockeying — if the Justices are re-instated, then it’s possible that Musharraf could be removed from the presidency, thus opening another position. Handicappers on what’s going on here are all over the map.] UPDATE TO POLITICAL NOTE: Fahim Scuppered.

Update: Reuters alertnet now reporting seven 12 “militants” killed.

More from Reuters:

Up to three missiles struck a house in a Pakistani region known as a safe haven for al Qaeda and Taliban militants on Sunday, killing 12 people including eight foreign militants, officials in the area said.

The attack took place in the village of Shahnawaz Kheil Dhoog, near the town of Wana in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

“Eight foreigners and four of their supporters were killed,” said a district government official, who declined to be identified.

The nationality of the foreigners was not known but some residents of the area said Arabs were among the dead.

Initial report From NDTV:

At least 20 people were killed and several others injured on Sunday in a missile strike on a home in Pakistan’s restive South Waziristan tribal area where the military is battling the local Taliban.

At least seven missiles hit the residential compound at Shahnawaz Kot village, located about two kilometres from Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan.

State-run PTV said 20 people were killed in the attack. Some of the dead were believed to be foreign nationals. Reports said some bodies were still trapped within the rubble and the death toll could rise.

Local residents said the missiles might have been fired from neighbouring Afghanistan or from a pilotless drone. They also said they had heard an aircraft flying over the area when the missile strike occurred.

This is the third strike this year, and it’s still unknown who we got in the previous strike here, or which “Egyptian Fugitive” was killed. In the earlier strike we got Al Libi.

Follow-Up on the restaurant blast:

US forces have cordoned off the Hospital since between 7-11 injured US citizens are being cared for there. From the Nation:

ISLAMABAD- American security personnel cordoned off the Shifa International Hospital after 11 US nationals injured in the Saturday evening blast were reportedly admitted there.
Although there was no official confirmation about the number of injured US nationals as the US Embassy could not be contacted. despite repeated attempts by The Nation, the other diplomatic sources placed the number falling between 7 and 11.

More on the Restaurant blast at Long War Journal