Pakistan: Missile death toll 55, aide denies Taliban head nearly killed

The head of Pakistan's Taliban attended a funeral shortly before a suspected US missile strike that killed about 55 people, two intelligence officials said Wednesday, but a top Taliban aide denied that the leader had a close call. Baitullah Mehsud, accused of plotting suicide bombings and the assassination Tuesday of his chief rival, is the target of a looming offensive by Pakistan's military in the South Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan. Meanwhile, three police officers were killed in a rocket attack at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar. In addition, three rockets were fired at a military base in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, triggering a shootout but no known casualties.