5 October 2010
The missile attack took place late Monday in Mir Ali Bazaar, 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.
North Waziristan is a reputed hideout for foreign and homegrown militants linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and is the operational epicentre of the latest plot reportedly uncovered by European and US intelligence agencies.
"Five German rebels of Turkish origin and three local militants were killed in the strike," a Pakistani security official said.
Two other security officials confirmed to AFP that five German nationals were killed, as US forces step up airborne attacks on militant hideouts while struggling to beat back the Taliban on the ground in Afghanistan.
One intelligence official at Miranshah said the house hit by US drone on Monday was owned by Sher Maula, a local tribesman who was arrested by Pakistani police with a German man wearing a burqa and carrying a pistol in Bannu town in June this year.
Bannu is located in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and shares its border with North Waziristan.
"Maula had rented out his house to these foreigners," the official said.
The burqa-clad German man was arrested on June 21 and was coming from Miranshah, police said.
Two tribesmen travelling with him in the vehicle were also detained, he said.
The attack came hours after Japan and Sweden joined Washington and London in issuing a warning of a "possible terrorist attack" by Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups against their citizens travelling in Europe.
US channel Fox News, citing unnamed intelligence officials, said militants had a list of targets in France and Germany, including Paris's Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, the city's central railway station and the Alexanderplatz TV tower.
US and German media said the information about possible targets was provided by a German national interrogated at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Germany said it was in contact with Pakistani authorities about the drone strike.
"The ministry and the embassy are actively pursuing their efforts to clarify the situation," a foreign ministry spokesman said. "But for the moment, there is no reliable evidence."
According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution's annual report in June, some 200 Germans or foreigners living in Germany have spent time in Pakistan intending to undergo paramilitary training with Islamist groups.
The agency said there are 29 Islamic extremist organisations in Germany, with 36,000 members at the end of 2009 -- 1,500 more than the year before.
Pakistani authorities have reported 24 US drone strikes since September 3, that have killed more than 140 people.
Recent missile strikes have largely targeted militants linked with the Haqqani extremist network, which is based in North Waziristan.
Officials in Washington say in the past the strikes have killed a number of high-value targets including former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. However, the attacks fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.
Militants fighting against over 150,000 US and NATO troops in Afghanistan are believed to be holed up in Pakistan's tribal areas, as are operatives at war with Pakistani security forces.
Washington has branded the rugged tribal area, which lies outside Pakistani government control, a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.
The United States does not as a rule confirm drone attacks, but its military and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the pilotless aircraft in the region.
Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens along the Afghan border, Pakistan has in the past year stepped up military operations against militants in the area.
Pakistani commanders have not ruled out an offensive in North Waziristan, but argue that gains in South Waziristan and the northwestern district of Swat need to be consolidated first.
Pakistan has protested against the drone strikes but until last week had taken few steps to stop the US military carrying out such attacks.
On Thursday however Pakistan closed the main land route for NATO supplies to Afghanistan after officials blamed a cross-border NATO helicopter attack for the deaths of three Pakistani soldiers.
The blockade entered its sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, officials said.
While the key route remains closed, NATO supply convoys have come under fierce attack in Pakistan with local Taliban militants claiming on Monday two raids in which nearly 60 trucks were torched.
earlier related report
Berlin (UPI) Oct 5, 2010 - German police fear attacks by foreign-trained European extremists as a U.S. drone killed several German militants in Pakistan.
Monday's drone strike in Pakistan's tribal belt killed at least five Germans of Arab descent and three other people, British newspaper The Guardian reports, citing an unnamed Pakistani security official. The drone reportedly fired two missiles into farmhouse in North Waziristan that provided shelter to a group of foreign extremists.
The attack came shortly after the United States, Britain and Japan issued terrorism-related travel alerts for Europe. German and U.S. media reports suggest they're based on intelligence gathered during the interrogation of Ahmed Sidiqi, a German of Afghan descent who was arrested in Afghanistan this summer.
Fox News reported over the weekend that targets singled out by the extremists include several private and public landmarks, including the posh Adlon Hotel and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
German security officials said they are taking the alerts seriously but warned against alarmism.
"There is no concrete evidence for imminent attacks in Germany," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Monday in Berlin. The Fox News report, he added, was based on old intelligence.
German police are nevertheless taking the warnings very seriously. Konrad Freiberg, the head of the German police union, said he is especially concerned about an increased number of home-grown extremists who travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan to receive training in arms and explosives.
"More and more people from Germany have traveled to terrorist training camps -- and a large part of them has come back and now lives here," Freiberg told German daily Passauer Neue Presse. "You have to expect terrorist attacks."
An estimated 40 trained and violent extremists are in Germany ready to commit attacks, Freiberg said, adding that the police aren't sufficiently staffed to constantly monitor all of them.
One German didn't make it back: Sidiqi, who left Hamburg in 2009, was captured by U.S. forces this summer and has since been interrogated by U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan.
During the past weeks, the media leaked supposed information from the interrogation, including speculation that Sidiqi was part of a group of terrorists planning commando-style attacks on cities in France and Germany.
The plans, the media reports suggested, mimic the coordinated attacks by gunmen on several targets in Mumbai in late 2008. The terrorists stormed several public and private buildings, including the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and killed 165 people.
The Pakistani security official in an interview with The Guardian said there was only a small presence of terrorists in North Waziristan, where U.S. counter-terrorism drone attacks have surged in recent weeks.
"There are Turks, Germans and Americans in" the tribal belt and no more than 100 of them, he told The Guardian. "It's not as if an army of foreigners is being trained there. Nothing of the sort."
The official added that the U.S. travel alert is part of an orchestrated plan to pressure Pakistan into staging a major military operation in North Waziristan.
"They're insisting that we go in now, which we can't," he said.
"We're telling them we'll go in on our own time."