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U.S. Strike Hits Pakistan Village

Wanted poster of Siraj Haqqani and Mullah Jalaluddin Haqqani, senior Taliban commander, 1998/8/22
AP
Several explosions reportedly caused by missile strikes from unmanned U.S. drone aircraft hit a house and seminary linked to a key Taliban commander in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, officials said.

An intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of his job, said at least six people were killed, including three foreigners and two children, in what appeared to be the latest in a string of attacks by U.S. forces on Islamic militant havens in Pakistan's tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The targets apparently belonged to Jalauddin Haqqani, a veteran of the jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s who American commanders describe as one of their most dangerous foes.

A senior Pakistani security official told CBS News' Farhan Bokhari on Monday that Haqqani and his son both survived the attack, which he called "the second U.S. intelligence failure since last Wednesday," when American commandos carried out the first known raid involving U.S. ground forces inside Pakistan.

Haqqani and his son, Siraj, have been linked to attacks this year including an attempt to kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a bold attack on a luxury hotel in Kabul. Haqqani network operatives plague U.S. forces in Afghanistan's eastern Khost province with ambushes and roadside bombs.

One of Jalauddin Haqqani's subcommanders told CBS News later Monday that Siraj had been in the house just several hours before the strike and his brother, Mohammed Haqqani, was killed by the missiles.

The militant, who spoke Monday to CBS News' Sami Yousafzai via telephone, said Mohammad was also a subcommander, under his brother, who had recently returned from Afghanistan where he was at one point surrounded by U.S. forces.

According to the subcommander who spoke to CBS, the Haqqanis owned four houses in the area and have been moving among them frequently - suspecting an attack was imminent from the increased number of U.S. aircraft seen flying overhead in recent days.

The seminary had been closed after previous attacks in the area.

The intelligence official said six people were killed and 15 injured - mostly women and children - when four missiles hit the seminary and three hit adjacent houses. He said militants surrounded the area afterward.

A second intelligence official gave a similar account.

Maj. Murad Khan, an army spokesman, confirmed blasts in the village of Dande Darba Khel, in the North Waziristan tribal area about 2 1/2 miles west of Miran Shah. He said 12 were injured.

"The cause of the explosions is being investigated," Khan said.

Bakht Niaz told The Associated Press by phone that he and several other shopkeepers saw two Predator drones flying over the area before several explosions around 10 a.m. (0400 GMT).

"We got out of our shops and ran for safety," Niaz said.

He said he saw two wounded people being taken away for treatment and roughly another dozen wounded in the local hospital.

The U.S. has pushed Pakistan to crack down on insurgents, warning they are using pockets of the northwest as safe havens from which to plan attacks on American and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan has struggled to contain rising militancy within its borders, and the fledgling government has tried both peace talks and military operations to stop the insurgents.

The U.S.-led ground assault last week on a Pakistani tribal region, which was said to kill at least 15, prompted sharp protests from Islamabad and heightened speculation that Washington has given a green light for more aggressive cross-border strikes. Several missile attacks in the area in recent weeks also have been attributed to U.S. forces.

Asif Ali Zardari, who won Pakitan's presidential election on Saturday, has vowed to be tough on militancy.