Video: U.S. missile kills al-Qaida operative

updated 11/1/2008 9:55:39 AM ET 2008-11-01T13:55:39

The death toll from suspected U.S. missile strikes on two villages in Pakistan near the Afghan border has risen to 29, Pakistani intelligence officials said Saturday.

The latest reports from informers and agents in the area of Friday's attacks showed that 29 people had died, said two intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media on the record.

Officials initially said that 27 people died in the North and South Waziristan regions, including several foreign fighters.

Another suspected missile strike later hit a village in South Waziristan, killing seven people, including an unspecified number of foreign fighters, the officials said.

A senior Taliban leader named Maulvi Nazir narrowly escaped that attack, according to one of his lieutenants.

Nazir had been sitting with friends in a house in the village of Barikot when it was hit, Yar Mohammed told The Associated Press. Nazir was slightly injured, Mohammed said, without elaborating.

Debating strikes
U.S. drone aircraft are believed to have carried out attacks on suspected al-Qaida and Taliban hide-outs in Pakistan's lawless border zone. Scores of foreign al-Qaida members are believed to be based there. It is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

U.S. officials have been frustrated at what they say is Pakistani inaction against extremists blamed for planning attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan — and perhaps Sept. 11-style terror strikes in the West.

The United States rarely confirms or denies firing the missiles and the identities of those killed are rarely confirmed. Locals frequently say civilians, sometimes women and children, are among the dead.

Pakistan says the strikes — and a highly unusual ground raid involving U.S. commandos in September — violate its sovereignty and insists it is tackling militants, citing an ongoing military offensive just north of Waziristan that has killed some 1,500 insurgents.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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