US airstrike kills 8 Punjabi Taliban in North Waziristan


The US killed eight Islamist terrorists in the third airstrike in two days in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

The strike, carried out by unmanned Predator or Reaper attack aircraft, hit a Taliban safe house in the Datta Khel region in North Waziristan. Several Hellfire missiles were reported to have been launched in the airstrike.

"The US drone missiles hit a house in the mountains," a Pakistani intelligence official told Dawn. "We have reports of three militants killed and five injured. The house was completely destroyed."

A later report from AFP indicated that eight 'Punjabi Taliban' were killed in an airstrike on a compound that appeared to be a training camp.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not comment on the target of the attack.

The Datta Khel region was the focus of two airstrikes yesterday which killed a senior al Qaeda commander and six fighters, as well as 11 Haqqani Network fighters.

The al Qaeda commander was identified as Zuhaib al Zahibi. A senior US military intelligence official described Zahibi as "a general officer equivalent" in the Lashkar al Zil, or the Shadow Army.

The Datta Khel region is a stronghold of both the Haqqani Network and North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar; they both shelter al Qaeda leaders and fighters. The US has pressured Pakistan to dismantle the Haqqani Network, but has been rebuffed.

The Haqqani family is led by Jalaluddin and his son Siraj, who serves as the military commander. The network is based in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and has the backing of the Pakistani military and its intelligence service. The Haqqanis have strong ties to al Qaeda. Siraj Haqqani is believed to be a member of al Qaeda's military shura, or council, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

The US has zeroed in on the Haqqani Network since killing Baitullah Mehsud in an Aug. 5 strike in South Waziristan. Baitullah was the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, one of several Taliban groups operating in Pakistan.

Since the Aug. 5 strike, 14 of the 18 reported airstrikes have taken place in North Waziristan, while the other four were in South Waziristan. Nine of the 14 attacks in North Waziristan occurred in territory administered by the Haqqani Network.

So far this year, the US has carried out 50 airstrikes inside Pakistan. In all of 2008, 36 strikes were carried out. Since the US ramped up cross-border attacks in August 2008, 16 senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed.

US airstrikes in Pakistan in 2009:

US airstrike kills 8 Punjabi Taliban in North Waziristan
Dec. 18, 2009
Al Qaeda Shadow Army commander killed in US strike [two airstrikes in North Waziristan]
Dec. 17, 2009
US strike kills 4 al Qaeda, 2 Taliban in South Waziristan
Dec. 10, 2009
US airstrike kills 3 in North Waziristan
Dec. 8, 2009
US airstrike kills 4 Taliban in North Waziristan
Nov. 18, 2009
US kills 4 in North Waziristan airstrike
Nov. 4, 2009
US airstrike targets al Qaeda in North Waziristan
Oct. 21, 2009
US kills 4 in strike on Haqqani Network in North Waziristan
Oct. 14, 2009
US strike kills Haqqani Network and foreign fighters in North Waziristan
Sept. 30, 2009
US aircraft strike in North and South Waziristan
Sept. 29, 2009
US airstrike targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan
Sept. 24, 2009
Two al Qaeda leaders reported killed in North Waziristan strike
Sept. 14, 2009
12 killed in second US strike in North Waziristan
Sept. 8, 2009
Senior al Qaeda leaders reported killed in North Waziristan strike
Sept. 7, 2009
US strikes Taliban compound in South Waziristan, 8 killed
Aug. 27, 2009
US Predators target the Haqqanis in North Waziristan
Aug. 20, 2009
US kills 14 in strike on Taliban training camp in South Waziristan
Aug. 11, 2009
Baitullah Mehsud's wife killed in Predator attack
Aug. 5, 2009
US Predator strikes in North Waziristan, kills 5
July 17, 2009
US strikes Taliban communications center in South Waziristan
July 10, 2009
US kills 25 Taliban in second Predator strike in South Waziristan
July 8, 2009
US Predator strike on Taliban camp kills 8 in South Waziristan
July 8, 2009
US Predator strike kills 14 Taliban in South Waziristan
July 7, 2009
13 Taliban fighters killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan
July 3, 2009
Scores of Taliban killed in second US strike in South Waziristan
June 23, 2009
Six killed in US Predator attack in South Waziristan
June 23, 2009
US strikes target Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan
June 18, 2009
US kills 5 in South Waziristan strike
June 14, 2009
US strikes Taliban, al Qaeda in North Waziristan
May 16, 2009
US strikes again in South Waziristan
May 12, 2009
US strike targets Baitullah Mehsud territory in South Waziristan
May 9, 2009
US strike kills 10 Taliban in South Waziristan
April 29, 2009
US airstrike targets Taliban training camp in South Waziristan
April 19, 2009
US Predator kills four in South Waziristan strike
April 8, 2009
US strikes Haqqani Network in North Waziristan
April 4, 2009
US launches first strike in Arakzai tribal agency
April 1, 2009
Latest US strike targets al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan
March 26, 2009
US airstrike kills 8 in Baitullah Mehsud's hometown
March 25, 2009
US launches second strike outside of Pakistan's tribal areas
March 15, 2009
US missile strike in Kurram agency kills 14
March 12, 2009
US airstrike kills 8 in South Waziristan
March 1, 2009
US airstrike in Pakistan's Kurram tribal agency kills 30
Feb. 16, 2009
US Predator strike in South Waziristan kills 25
Feb. 14, 2009
US strikes al Qaeda in North and South Waziristan
Jan. 23, 2009
US hits South Waziristan in second strike
Jan. 2, 2009
US kills 4 al Qaeda operatives in South Waziristan strike
Jan. 1, 2009


For a summary of US strikes inside Pakistan in 2008, see "US strikes in 2 villages in South Waziristan".



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READER COMMENTS: "US airstrike kills 8 Punjabi Taliban in North Waziristan"

Posted by AAndrew at December 18, 2009 11:38 AM ET:

3 Drone strikes in 2 days - Hopefully this is a sign that we're getting some good intel of late. I like the fact that pace has picked up a bit after a bit of a lull.

Hope at least one of the 3 killed in the latest strike was an HVT. Fingers crossed.

Posted by Civy at December 18, 2009 4:14 PM ET:

Bill,
Just a modest request, if you would. Draw a simple family tree for the Haqqani Network/Family so we can more easily follow the evolving conversation. TVMIA

Posted by AAndrew at December 18, 2009 8:25 PM ET:

2 cruise missiles hit targets in Yemen. This will be interesting as details come in. Hope there were some HVTs in that strike.