Taliban furious over US strike on Waziristan

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The Taliban are exceptionally angry about the latest apparent US missile strike in Pakistan, indicating a senior militant may be among two dozen people killed, officials and residents said yesterday.

The US has ramped up cross-border strikes that target alleged al-Qaida and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan's tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders have often condemned such attacks as violations of their country's sovereignty.

In the case of Friday's alleged American strike in North Waziristan tribal region, which was believed to have killed several Arab fighters, government officials have been notably quiet. The Taliban, however, were reportedly responding with fury.

The insurgents were moving aggressively in the militant-plagued area while using harsh language against local residents, including calling them "salable commodities" — a reference to people serving as spies, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The intelligence officials, whose information came from informants and field agents, said the anger was a sign that a senior militant may have died. But that has not been confirmed, said the officials, who sought anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to media.

Two area residents said Taliban fighters warned people not to discuss the missile strike or inspect the rubble at the site. The residents requested anonymity for fear of Taliban revenge.