Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat
A suspected Taliban hideout in North Waziristan was hit with missiles as peace negotiations in North Waziristan are underway between the Taliban and the provincial government. Twelve have been reported killed in the strike, according to AFP.
The attack occurred in the town of Khushali Tari Khel near Mir Ali on the Pakistan-Afghan frontier. “The identities of the dead are not ascertained but we had reports that suspected them of being linked to the Taliban,” an intelligence official told AFP. Locals claimed “tribesmen” were visiting the home of a “local elder.”
The Pakistani military has not confirmed or denied the incident. In the past, Pakistani and US Special Operations Forces have conducted strikes inside the tribal areas in an attempt to eliminate high-value Taliban and al Qaeda targets.
The last major strike occurred in August 2007 when Pakistani forces hit two Taliban and al Qaeda bases in the village of Daygan, North Waziristan. Camps and bases in Damadola, Danda Saidgai, Chingai, Zamazola, again in Danda Saidgai, and Mami Rogha were hit over the course of 2006 and 2007. These strikes have done little to disrupt the growth of al Qaeda and the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan.
Today’s strike in Khushali Tari Khel mirrors the Chingai, Bajaur attack, which occurred at the end of August 2006. The government was negotiating with Faqir Mohammed and his local Taliban forces in Bajaur. The bombings, which leveled a Taliban training camp at the Chingai madrassa, killed more than 80 Taliban. The peace talks with the Taliban in Bajaur were sabotaged, but a deal was cut six months later in March 2007.
Bajaur serves as an al Qaeda command and control center for operations in northeastern Afghanistan. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, has been sighted in Bajaur, in Faqir’s company. The Chingai strike is believed to have been conducted by US Special Operations Forces to explicitly derail the Bajaur peace agreement.
Today’s attack in North Waziristan may also be designed to sink the talks with the Taliban. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied terror groups operate at least 29 training camps in North and South Waziristan alone.
See The Fall of the Northwest Frontier Province for the full history of the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal regions and beyond.