Malik Mumtaz Khan & Mushtaq Yusufzai, TheNews.com
MIRAMSHAH/PESHAWAR: Taliban in North Waziristan Monday rewarded one of their fighters with a new model car for shooting down the US drone on Sunday evening.
Also, government officials in the restive tribal region finally confirmed the downing of the US spy aircraft by Taliban militants. The militants led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur had claimed on Sunday shooting down the drone in Hamzoni village.
Tribal sources in Miramshah said the militants congratulated each other on Monday for shooting down the drone, known as `banganaâ€™ locally due to the thundering sound of the pilot-less aircraft.
The militant was given a new car by the Taliban leaders as reward to shoot down the drone. The militants from adjoining villages thronged Hamzoni to have a look at the wreckage of the drone. Such drones have claimed lives of many militants and are considered the most fatal weapon.
The militants wanted to meet and congratulate their fellow fighter who accurately fired and hit the spy plane to the ground. Taliban sources confirmed that the man behind the downing of the drone had been gifted a car, but declined to name the fighter. They said he would be remembered as a `heroâ€™ among the Taliban.
â€œThe shooting down of the drone has lifted the morale of our fighters. Itâ€™s a huge success for the poorly armed Taliban against a powerful enemy,â€ remarked a senior Taliban commander, but pleaded anonymity.
He also claimed that four missiles were fitted on the drone when it was hit and shot down, but the missiles did not explode. Taliban said friends of the six tribal militants killed in the US drone attack on January 19 in Deegan village of Dattakhel tehsil had taken a vow to avenge the killing by shooting down the spy plane.
â€œSince then, a group of four well-trained militants had been waiting to hit the drones. They had also installed an anti-aircraft gun on their double-cabin pickup truck,â€ a Taliban source said.
The sources said six militants were killed on that occasion when the drone had struck a house and a car, which was about to enter the building. â€œThey honoured their commitment made after the killing of their friends by the US drone,â€ said a Taliban fighter. Meanwhile, government officials in Miramshah said five spy planes were seen flying over various villages of South Waziristan Monday evening.