12 reported dead in suspected US strike in Pakistani tribal region

Japanese journalist wounded in an apparent kidnap attempt in the frontier city of Peshawar.

US jets 224.88  (photo credit: US Air Force )
US jets 224.88
(photo credit: US Air Force )
Missiles apparently fired by unmanned US aircraft hit a village near the Afghan border Friday, killing at least 12 people including several foreign militants, Pakistani officials said. Meanwhile, a Japanese journalist was wounded in an apparent kidnap attempt in the frontier city of Peshawar - the latest in a spate of attacks on foreigners and abductions in the city, police said. The United States has launched a number of cross-border missile strikes over the last two months, part of a surge in violence across northwestern Pakistan that includes a Pakistan army offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida militants and a wave of retaliatory suicide bombings. Friday's attack occurred in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region and stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters suspected of mounting attacks on US troops in Afghanistan. Three Pakistani intelligence officials told The Associated Press that at least two missiles hit a house in Ghari Wam, a village about 18 miles from the border, early Friday morning. Two officials put the death toll at 12 and said it included several suspected foreign militants. Their exact identity was not immediately clear. Taliban gunmen had cordoned the area and removed the bodies, one official said. Another official put the toll at 13 and said 10 of them were foreigners. The officials cited reports from agents and informants in the area and the different tallies could not immediately be reconciled. They asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Washington rarely confirms or denies involvement in the attacks. The Japanese journalist was traveling with a Pakistani assistant in a car in Peshawar when gunmen opened fire, said police officer Mohammed Khan. He was identified as Motoki Yotsukura from the Asahi newspaper. Khan said Yotsukura was wounded in the leg. It was unclear how serious his assistant's injuries were. No other information was immediately available. Security appears to be crumbling in Peshawar, a strategically vital city and a hub for Western-funded relief work in the region, where extremists have found a firm foothold among an impoverished and isolated population. Gunmen abducted an Iranian diplomat in Peshawar on Thursday, a day after an American aid worker was ambushed and killed in the city.