Drone attacks continue on Pak Taliban bases

Terror group chief escapes unhurt

However, Pakistani intelligence officials and the terror outfit said Mehsud escaped ‘alive’.

Earlier, the intense speculation by Pakistani media came as Mehsud, according to Taliban, was in Basalkot village, 70 km south of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan agency, which was hit by four US missiles.

Several other key commanders were also reported to have been killed in the strike, the seventh this month in the area said to be infested with fighters of Haqqani network of the Taliban.

Reports said some key militant commanders and foreigners were among the 15 dead. Several others were also injured.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the media, said there were reports about Mehsud’s presence in the area targeted in Thursday’s drone attack.

However, Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq claimed Mehsud, who became the chief of the outfit after the death of his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in August last year, was safe and had left the area minutes before the missile strike.
The house targeted in the attack was destroyed. The compound that was struck was reportedly being used by the Taliban as a training camp.

Local residents said they had seen four to six drones hovering over the area after the strike.      Militants cordoned off the area and prevented people from approaching the site, residents said. This was the seventh drone strike in North Waziristan this month. The US has intensified attacks in North Waziristan after a suicide strike in the adjacent Khost province of Afghanistan killed seven CIA operatives on December 30.     

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