A suspected US drone fired two missiles yesterday at an alleged hideout connected to a Taliban leader who has threatened to attack Washington, killing 12 people and wounding several others, officials said.
The attack came a day after Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a police academy in the eastern city of Lahore, saying it was retaliation for US missile strikes on militant strongholds along the Afghan border.
Mehsud also vowed to launch an attack on Washington or even the White House in phone interviews.
But the FBI said he had made similar threats previously and that there was no indication of anything imminent.
A local intelligence official said the compound attacked yesterday in a remote area of the Orakzai tribal region near the Afghan border belonged to one of Mehsud’s commanders.
Up to 30 suspected militants were at the compound when it was hit and the Taliban have moved the dead and injured to an undisclosed location, he said.
The strike is believed to be the first in Orakzai, another sign the US is expanding its attack zone, possibly because of pressure on militants to keep moving.
Two other senior intelligence officials said they believe 12 people were killed in the strike, including close associates of Mehsud.
But it was difficult to confirm the exact identities of those involved because the Taliban surrounded the area shortly after the attack, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Liaquat Ali, a local government official in Orakzai, confirmed the attack but could not provide casualty figures or the identities of the people targeted.
Pakistan has publicly protested the attacks, calling them a violation of its sovereignty that also deepens anti-US sentiment.