Pakistani officials say 5 German militants believed killed in a US drone strike in NW region

By Asif Shahzad, AP
Monday, October 4, 2010

5 Germans said killed in Pakistan missile strike

ISLAMABAD — A U.S. missile killed five German militants taking shelter in a house in northwest Pakistan on Monday, intelligence officials said.

The attack hit a house in North Waziristan. That region has been named as the source of a European terror plot that has prompted American authorities to issue a travel advisory. One or more German citizens are reported to be linked to the plot.

The missile strike took place in the town of Mir Ali, a known hub for foreign militants with links to al-Qaida.

Two officers said the five victims were believed to be German citizens in the region for terrorist training.

A third said they were believed to be foreigners, but gave no details.

The officials spoke anonymously because their agency does not permit operatives to be named in the media.

They said the house, located near a mosque and a hospital, was owned by a local resident, Sher Mullah.

A resident, Azmatullah Dawar, said Mullah was in the custody of intelligence agencies after he was arrested with a German national some months ago in northwestern Bannu district.

“He had given shelter to all these Germans,” he said.

Two more residents, Hakimullah Khan and Nasrullah Wazir, said they saw some of the bodies after the strike and they all appeared to be foreigners.

Killing so many foreign militants in a single strike would be unusual.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday his office was currently checking the reports. He declined to be named in line with policy.

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office has said that there is “concrete evidence” that 70 of some 220 people who have traveled from Germany to Pakistan and Afghanistan for paramilitary training have received it. It is believed that about a third of those 70 have returned to Germany.

A senior Pakistani intelligence official said last week that some 60 Germans were believed to be in the region where the latest missile strike occurred. He said eight of them — as well as two Britons, one of whom was killed in a Sept. 8 missile strike — were at the heart of the Europe terror plot.

U.S. officials rarely confirm the identities of those who are being targeted by the CIA-led missile campaign.

Sometimes information given by intelligence officials turns out to be false. More often than not it is never confirmed or denied. Sometimes militant organizations announce the names of those killed, but typically not for weeks or months.

Last month, American spy planes carried out 21 missile attacks in northwest Pakistan, more than twice the highest number in any previous month over the last six years.

Associated Press writer Rasool Dawar in Peshawar contributed to this report.

will not be displayed