US Drone Kills 60 in Pakistan; May Be Deadliest Ever

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2009 5:23 PM CDT
A soldier from the Pakistani para-military force stands guard as children stand in line to receive kites provided by security forces.   (AP Photo/M. Mohsin)
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(Newser) – The American hunt for Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud—implicated, among other things, in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto—took two major twists today in Pakistan. Early reports suggest that a US military drone killed about 60 suspected militants after the funeral of an insurgent commander in South Waziristan near the Afghan border, reports the New York Times. The attack is part of a stepped-up US-Pakistani effort to go after Mehsud, who was in the area but unhurt, notes Reuters.

If the accuracy of the reports hold up, it would likely be the deadliest US drone attack ever conducted in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. In the other development, an assassin killed one of Mehsud's main tribal rivals. The Pakistani government had hoped to use the tribal leader to bring down Mehsud, and analysts tell the Times that the assassination casts doubt on the strategy of trying to exploit tribal disagreements.