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US drone strike kills 20 in Pakistan

world Updated: Jan 18, 2010 01:30 IST

AFP
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A US drone attack on Sunday killed 20 militants in an area of Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt where local Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud reportedly escaped death days ago, officials said.

The attack took place in Shaktoi area, 40 km southeast of Miranshah, the town in the rugged tribal region of North Waziristan — the same spot where US missiles pounded an extremist hideout on Thursday.

That raid triggered rumours that Mehsud had been killed or injured, but the chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) released an audio message late Saturday denying rumours of his demise and vowing revenge for the US strikes.

Security officials said US drones appear to be tracking Mehsud amid a surge in the strikes by unmanned spy planes. Sunday’s deadly bombing was the tenth US drone strike to hit Pakistan’s tribal belt this month alone.

“The target was a militant compound,” said a security official in the area.