Pakistan airstrike 'kill scores of civilians'

The attack near the Afghan border risks undercutting public support for the fight against militants

The government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said authorities had already handed out the equivalent of $125,000 in compensation to families of the victims in a remote village in the Khyber tribal area.



Also today, a village elder claimed 13 civilians had been killed in U.S. missile strike last night elsewhere in the northwest, contesting accounts by Pakistani security officials that four militants were killed.



Pakistan's tribal regions are largely out of bounds for reporters and dangerous to visit because of the likelihood of being abducted by militants, who still control much of the area, making it very difficult to verify casualty figures.



Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas on Monday denied that any of the dead in the Pakistani air force attack were civilians, saying the army had intelligence that militants were gathering at the site of the strike. The victims were initially reported to be suspected militants. The military regularly reports killing scores of militants in airstrikes in the northwest, but rarely says it is responsible for civilian deaths.



The Pakistani army, under heavy pressure from the United States, has moved forcefully against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the northwest over the last 18 months. The insurgents have been blamed for attacks on international troops across the border in Afghanistan as well as scores of attacks within Pakistan.



Pakistani politicians have either supported the operations or avoiding criticizing them, something of a change from several years ago when many backed negotiations with the insurgents. But civilian casualties threaten to undermine support for the offensives, both in the northwest and in the rest of Pakistan, where many people do not like the idea of the army being deployed against fellow Muslims.



The offensives have displaced more than 1 million people, and one newspaper said Tuesday that the deaths of innocents would strengthen support for the Taliban.



Two survivors interviewed Tuesday in a hospital in the main northwestern city of Peshawar gave the first detailed account of the attack, which took place Saturday morning.



They said most of the victims were killed when they were trying to rescue people trapped by an earlier strike on the house of a village elder.



"This house was bombed on absolutely wrong information," said Khanan Gul Khan, a resident of the village who was visiting a relative in the hospital. "This area has nothing to do with militants."



Khan said many of the families in the village, Sara Walla, had sons serving in the security forces and that it had a history of cooperating with the army. He said the owner of the house that was bombed initially, Hamid Khan, had two sons serving in the paramilitary Frontier Corps.



He said 68 people were killed and many more wounded. The political official said Monday that the families of 71 victims had been compensated, but did not identify them.



Dilla Baz Khan suffered a fractured arm in the second attack, which he said came around two hours after the first one.



"We were about to pull out a lady from the rubble when another jet came and bombed us," he said from the orthopedic ward of the Hayatabad medical complex in Peshawar. "Then I lost consciousness."



He said an official from the Khyber political administration visited him Monday and gave him $220 for the loss of four relatives, including his brother. "He said we are sorry for this, and we pray for your early recovery," he said.



Brief reports of significant civilian casualties in the strike Saturday have appeared in the local media in recent days, but have not attracted much attention or criticism. The army, while nominally under civilian control, is the most powerful institution in the country.



An editorial Tuesday in Dawn, a respected English-language daily, said it was clear that the dead had no links to the militants and that the incident "strengthens the hands of the Taliban." It said around 60 people were killed.



The United States also regularly attacks al-Qaida and Taliban targets in northwest Pakistan with missiles fired from unmanned drones. American officials do not acknowledge being behind the attacks, which are credited with killing scores of insurgents. Critics say those attacks also regularly claim civilian lives.



Pakistan intelligence officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said a missile attack late Monday close to the town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan killed four suspected militants. Noor Gul, a resident in the village, disputed that, saying 13 civilians, including two children, were killed.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?