24 May 2012

Drone strike hits Pakistan mosque say locals

A US drone attack in north west Pakistan, reported to have killed at least 10 people, hit a small village mosque sources reports Channel 4 News Foreign Editor Ben de Pear.

Undated handout image courtesy of the US Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft (Reuters)

In the fourth drone attack since March, local tribesmen from Mir Ali in North Waziristan said the drone fired two missiles at the village mosque where people were offering their Fajr or morning prayer.

Multiple sources have told Channel 4 News that the building was a mosque; US sources cite the building as “a compound.” Confirmation that a US drone attacked a mosque would very likely incite angry protests and further inflame strained relations between the uS and PAkistan, which is still not allowing supply convoys through its territory to US and other forces in Afghanistan following a US strike on a Pakistani army base last year.

Local villagers said 10 bodies had been pulled out of the debris while efforts were underway to retrieve others.

“The drone fired two missiles and hit the village mosque where a number of people were offering Fajr prayer,” a local tribal elder told Channel 4 News.

Doctors in Mir Ali hospital said six injured had been brought there so far – one later died while four others were in a critical condition. A government official in the area initially said the drone targeted a house in which militants were said to be living, but a Pakistani security official based in the area later said the drone targeted a mosque in Hasukhel and killed local villagers.

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He did not have exact information about casualties but said over a dozen people had been confirmed killed in the latest attack. Taliban sources told Channel 4 News four of the dead men were foreign fighters, believed to be Turkmen.

North Waziristan is in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan and has hosted hundreds of militants from Afghainstan and other countries over the past decade.

The US has pressured Pakistan to clear the militants out, but the Pakistani government says this is difficult politically, culturally and militarily. Since President Obama came to power drone strikes have increased exponentially and whilst many militants taking refuge from the war in Afghanistan have been killed, so reportedly have many innocent civilians.