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'US strike' kills Taleban leader

Archive image of a US "hunter-killer" drone, the MQ-9 Reaper, which has been deployed in Afghanistan
The US military has been using drones armed with missiles in Afghanistan

A suspected US missile strike has killed 20 people, including a top Taleban commander, in north-west Pakistan, witnesses and officials say.

Mohammad Omar was among the dead when the missile, reportedly fired by a pilotless US drone, hit a compound owned by him in South Waziristan.

Omar fought with the Taleban in Afghanistan in the late 1990s.

The US has launched many missile strikes from Afghanistan against suspected militant targets recently.

The latest strike on Sunday night was launched at a compound owned by Mohammad Omar in Mandatta village in the troubled region of South Waziristan.

Mohammad Omar was a close associate of the dead Taleban commander Nek Mohammed, who was killed in a suspected US strike in the area four years ago.

Witnesses said that the missile strike completely destroyed Mohammed Omar's house, and partially damaged two neighbouring houses.

Panic

They said locals rushed to the targeted compounds to rescue the people inside and there was panic in the area after the attack.

Local officials confirmed that 20 bodies had been dug up from the debris of the compound.

Two others are reported to have been injured in the attack, they said.

The US has made no comment.

BBC map of the Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan

The attack comes three days after a missile attack in Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan area killed seven students of a religious school.

Over a month ago, US troops conducted a ground operation in the Musa Nikah area of South Waziristan area in which more than 15 people were killed.

In recent weeks the United States has launched many missile strikes against suspected militant targets in the Afghan border region.

Washington says the strikes are used against militant targets, but correspondents say that intelligence failures have sometimes led to civilian casualties.

Figures compiled by the BBC Urdu service show that some 80 people have been killed in a number of suspected US missile strikes in South and North Waziristan region over the past month.

The United States rarely confirms or denies such attacks.

Tensions between the US and Pakistan have increased over the issue of cross-border incursions against militants by American forces based in Afghanistan.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will not tolerate violations of his country's territory.

The US state department has affirmed "its support for Pakistan's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity".



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