Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taliban remove German militants' bodies after attack

US drone attacks have increased in the past month

The Taliban have removed the bodies of eight militants killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan, the BBC has been told. Pakistani security officials have confirmed that four of the dead were German nationals. They were killed by two missiles fired by a US drone at a house in North Waziristan. Security sources have closely linked the area to an al-Qaeda plot to attack European cities. The attack destroyed the home of a tribal leader with close links to a local Taliban commander in a village 3km (2 miles) from the main town of Mir Ali. Identification of the victims is being made more difficult because Taliban militants sealed off the area after the missile strike, taking away the remains for burial. A number of people were said to have been wounded.There have been concerns about the presence of German nationals in Pakistan's tribal areas. According to German media, several Islamist militants disappeared from their homes in Hamburg in 2009 and were thought to have headed for North Waziristan. The arrest of one of those militants, Ahmed Sidiqi, in Afghanistan in July is said to have yielded useful intelligence to investigators. The previous month, German media reported that a 25-year-old German of Syrian origin, considered to be head of the Hamburg group, had been arrested in Pakistan.

On Monday, the German interior ministry revealed that 70 Germans had been given paramilitary training in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and one third of them had returned home. In August, German police shut down a mosque in Hamburg which had been used by the 9/11 attackers and which the authorities believed was again becoming a focus for extremists. Berlin, as well as Paris and London, was cited in a US warning at the weekend as a possible target for a suspected al-Qaeda plot. Several countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens, saying they should be vigilant while travelling in Europe. US media outlets reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had ramped up missile strikes from its unmanned drones, targeting militants who are believed to have inspired the alleged plot. In Pakistan, the US has carried out 26 drone strikes in the past month - the highest monthly total for the past six years.


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