US drone ‘shot down’ in SWAT

Four US Predators violated Pak airspace

By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: Pakistani security forces and Wazir tribesmen Tuesday shot down a CIA-operated US Predator plane near Angoor Adda, in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) but AFP reported that the plane crashed.

Official and tribal sources informed this correspondent from Angoor Adda – a border town between Pakistan’s South Waziristan and Afghanistan’s Paktika province — that Pakistani security forces and armed Wazir tribespeople fired at the US spy plane and downed.

“Yes, the security forces and Wazir tribesmen fired at the plane and shot it down,” said a security official based in the border town, but wished not to be named.The wreckage of the drone was reportedly lying scattered in a border village.

The official said the drone had been constantly flying over Pakistani border villages since Tuesday morning.Also, tribal sources from Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan, said they received reports from their fellow Wazir tribesmen living in the border town that a US plane had been shot down.

Security officials said four US drones were flying over various towns of South Waziristan inhabited by the Ahmadzai Wazir tribesmen. However, despite several attempts by this scribe, Pakistan Army spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas did not attend telephone calls.

The US drones violated Pakistan’s air space at the time when US President George W Bush was assuring his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari of respecting sovereignty of his country.The flights seemingly in search of yet another site for an attack across the border created panic among the already terrified tribesmen.

Official and tribal sources informed The News from Wana and Miramshah, the headquarters of South and North Waziristan tribal agencies, respectively, that the Predators intruded into Pakistani territory on Tuesday evening and continued flying over the border villages until one of the planes was downed.

The sources from Wana said four US drones came from Afghanistan and were seen flying over several border areas, including Wana, Birmal, Shakai and Toi Khula. The residents said the planes came early on Tuesday morning and after flying for a few hours disappeared at noon. However, four of them later reappeared in the evening and hovered over the Wazirs-inhabited areas of South Waziristan along the border with Afghanistan’s troubled Paktika province and were still hovering over the region.

According to the residents of Wana, non-stop flights of US spy planes over the tribal region have terrified the tribesmen as these planes in the past had fired several Hellfire missiles resulting in the killing of dozens of people, majority of them innocent tribals, including women and children.

“The drones have been constantly flying over the villages located near the border with Afghanistan forcing majority of the residents on living outside their homes,” Shakirullah, a resident of Dabkot village near Wana, said while talking to this scribe on telephone.

Meanwhile, tribesmen of adjoining North Waziristan Agency also claimed that two US drones had crossed into Pakistani territory on Tuesday morning and were continuously hovering over the area.

“The two planes are continuously flying over residential areas since Tuesday morning. At noon they briefly disappeared but re-appeared afternoon and are still flying over us,” said Mohammad Javed, a resident of Danday Darpakhel village near Miramshah.

He said both the spy planes had been constantly flying over Danday Darpakhel village where a house and Madrassa of veteran Afghan Taliban commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani were attacked recently by two US drones killing 25 people, majority of them women and children belonging to Haqqani’s family.

“Both the planes are flying at extremely low altitude frightening the villagers, especially the children,” complained another villager Syed Halim. A security official based in Miramshah also confirmed the intrusion and said besides Danday Darpakhel, the drones were flying over other adjoining villages including Dattakhel, Spalga, Razmak and Mirali.

Source: The News, 24/9/2008

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