Taliban battle Pakistani security forces for drone debris

Islamabad, Sep 19 (IANS) Taliban guerrillas fought a pitched battle with security forces as both attempted to seize the wreckage of a US drone that crashed in Pakistan's South Waziristan region.

During the fierce gunfight, an officer and a soldier of the Punjab Regiment were injured and three militants were killed, sources told Dawn.

Azmatullah Dewana, a local Taliban commander, claimed his group had shot down the aircraft.

'We have shot down a plane loaded with two missiles and our fighters have got hold of its wreckage,' he was quoted as saying.

Heavy fighting broke out soon after the drone crashed at about 8 a.m.

Officials, however, said a technical fault had caused the crash.

Sources said soldiers went to the spot to recover the plane's wreckage and clashed with militants in a bid to secure the area.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack in August 2009.