The government of Pakistan has confirmed what had previously been reported; i.e., that four or five terrorists were killed in the Predator strike that also killed several civilians:
At least four foreign terrorists died in the U.S. airstrike purportedly aimed at al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, the provincial government said Tuesday.
Pakistani intelligence officials have said Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenant, had been invited to a dinner in the targeted village of Damadola to mark an Islamic holiday but did not show up and sent some aides instead.
“Four or five foreign terrorists have been killed in this missile attack whose dead bodies have been taken away by their companions to hide the real reason of the attack,” the statement said, citing the chief official in the Bajur region where Damadola is located.
“It is regrettable that 18 local people lost their lives in the attack, but this fact also cannot be denied, that 10-12 foreign extremists had been invited on a dinner,” it said.
The Predator strike has been widely denounced as a “botched” attempt to kill Zawahiri. It appears, on the contrary, that it was a well-executed strike that would have succeeded if Zawahiri had shown up for dinner. In addition to killing a number of aides who were evidently close to Zawahiri, the attack, which was apparently based on human intelligence, should have good effects. It presumably will arouse suspicion and confusion in al Qaeda over the identity of the informant and the depth of our penetration of the organization or its allies, and it will remind villagers in the region of the dangers involved in aiding the terrorists.