Dozens of militants with ties to al-Qaida and the Taliban are dead
after missiles leveled a stronghold of a top Taliban commander in
Pakistani intelligence officials say at least 27 people were killed in the attack on Baitullah Mehsud's compound in (Zangari village) a remote area of South Waziristan, near the Afghan border.
The officials say it appears the attack was carried out by a U.S. drone (remote-controlled aircraft) early Saturday, although they do not think Mehsud was at the compound at the time
Taliban officials cordoned off the area and began pulling bodies from the rubble. They say most of the dead are Uzbek fighters.
In an interview with (U.S. television network) CBS, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari warns that the Taliban have spread and are threatening to take over.
He says his government is now "fighting for the survival Pakistan."
The strike comes just days after the new U.S. envoy to the region,
Richard Holbrooke, visited Pakistan to talk to senior officials about
security in the border region.
There have been more than 30 similar missile strikes on Pakistani
territory since the middle of last year, despite the public objections
of the Pakistani government. The strikes have generally targeted
al-Qaida and Taliban militants.
Pakistan has called them a violation of its sovereignty.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Congress last month that
Washington has made it clear to Pakistan that the United States will go
after al-Qaida wherever al-Qaida is.