At least 45 people were killed in a missile strike by a US drone aircraft in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region, officials there said June 23. Those killed had been attending a funeral for others killed in a US drone strike earlier in the day. The region is a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.
Also on June 23, tribal leader Qari Zainuddin, a rival of Mehsud, was shot dead by a an unknown gunman. Pakistan’s government had supported Zainuddin as part of its effort to overturn Mehsud’s control in the region. The Pakistani army is currently preparing to launch an offensive against Taliban fighters under Mehsud’s command.
According to the United Nations, another 40,000 Pakistanis have fled South Waziristan in recent days. They join the nearly 2 million who have fled the Swat Valley during military operations against the Taliban. (BBC News, FSRN, June 23)
See our last post on Pakistan.