The US carried out a Predator airstrike in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan today, killing 25 people in an area known to host terrorist training camps. The attack took place just one day after the top US military leader visited Islamabad in an attempt to patch up a troubled relationship between the two countries.
A pair of the unmanned US Predator strike aircraft, or the more deadly Reapers, fired four missiles at a compound in the village of Spinwan near Mir Ali in North Waziristan. Initial reports indicated that five terrorists were killed, Pakistani intelligence officials told Reuters. But officials later said 25 people were killed, including three women. "Foreigners" were also reported to have been killed.
The target of the strike was fighters under the command of North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Taliban fighters cordoned the attack site after the strike.
No senior al Qaeda, Taliban, or other terrorist leaders have been reported killed in today's strike.
The Mir Ali area is in the sphere of influence of Abu Kasha al Iraqi, an al Qaeda leader who serves as a key link to the Taliban and supports al Qaeda's external operations network. Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar and the Haqqani Network also operate in the Mir Ali area. Moreover, Mir Ali is a known hub for al Qaeda's military and external operations councils.
Since Sept. 8, 2010, a total of 16 Germans and two Britons have been reported killed in Predator strikes in the Mir Ali area. The Europeans were members of the Islamic Jihad Group, an al Qaeda affiliate based in the Mir Ali area. The IJU members are believed to be involved in a recently discovered al Qaeda plot that targeted several major European cities and was modeled after the terror assault on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.
Mir Ali also hosts at least three suicide training camps for the the Fedayeen-i-Islam, an alliance between the Pakistani Taliban, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed. A Fedayeen spokesman recently claimed that more than 1,000 suicide bombers have trained at three camps. One failed suicide bomber corroborated the Fedayeen spokesman's statement, claiming that more than 350 suicide bombers trained at his camp.
Over the past year, the US has been pounding targets in the Datta Khel, Miramshah, and Mir Ali areas of North Waziristan in an effort to kill members involved in the European plot. Al Qaeda and allied terror groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and a number of Pakistani and Central and South Asian terror groups host or share camps in the region.
Despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign groups in North Waziristan, and requests by the US that action be taken against these groups, the Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on Bahadar or the Haqqani Network. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered "good Taliban" by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan.
Just yesterday, during a visit to Islamabad, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the strikes would continue and pressured Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan. Mullen said that elements of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency have a "relationship" with the Haqqani Network, but he stopped short of accusing the ISI of supporting the Haqqanis.
Mullen's statement angered Pakistani military leaders, who denied that they support the Haqqanis. Pakistan's military and civilian government continue to call on the US to end the attacks, despite having privately approved the strikes since the program ramped up in July 2008.
Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/04/us_predators_kill_5_5.php#ixzz1KH5ejDcJ
In: World News, Other Middle East
Tags: Pakistan, North Waziristan, predator strike, predator, reaper, taliban, al qaeda
Location: Pakistan (load item map)
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