The US has struck for the second time in two days in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan.
An unmanned US Predator aircraft fired missiles at an abandoned girls’ school in the village of Madin in the Lahda region. Four Taliban fighters occupying the abandoned school have been reported killed in the early morning strike. No senior Taliban or al Qaeda leaders have been reported killed.
Lahda is in the eastern half of South Waziristan in a region controlled by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. There were at least two other strikes in Baitullah’s territory in South Waziristan during 2008. In mid-June, a strike hit a Taliban safe house in Baitullah’s hometown of Makeen. In mid-October, a Predator strike took place in the village of Saam, also in the Ladha region.
The Taliban and the Pakistani military had several major clashes at the Ladha Fort during January 2008. The Frontier Corps abandoned the Ladha Fort and other outposts in August 2008 after admitting it could no longer keep the supply lines open.
Today’s strike in South Waziristan follows yesterday’s attack against Taliban fighters in Mullah Nazir’s tribal areas. Four Turkmen al Qaeda members were reported killed in the New Year’s Day strike. Prior to the turn of the new year, the last US attack inside of Pakistan took place on Dec. 22 near Wana in Nazir’s tribal areas.
Both Nazir and Baitullah host al Qaeda and Taliban training camps in their tribal areas.
Background on US strikes against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan
There were 36 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan during 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-nine of these attacks took place after Aug. 31. There were only 10 recorded strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.
The US campaign in Pakistan is aimed at disrupting al Qaeda’s ability to attack the West. US intelligence believes the next attack launched against the West will originate from Pakistan’s tribal areas, where al Qaeda operates 157 known training camps. Al Qaeda has been training terrorists holding Western passports to conduct attacks, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.
The US strikes inside Pakistan’s tribal areas killed five senior al Qaeda leaders during 2008. All of the leaders were involved in supporting al Qaeda’s external operations directed at the West.
US attacks inside Pakistan in 2009:
Jan. 2, 2009
Jan. 1, 2009
For a summary of US strikes inside Pakistan in 2008, see US strikes in two villages in South Waziristan.