US airstrike kills 4 Taliban fighters in North Waziristan
The US killed four Taliban fighters in the latest strike on a Taliban camp in Pakistan's tribal agency of North Waziristan.
The strike targeted a Taliban training camp in the village of Ismail Khan in an area west of Miramshah. The compound is said to be run by Rasta Barkhan, a tribesman closely linked to the Taliban.
At least one unmanned strike aircraft fired two missiles into the training center, AFP reported. Five unmanned aircraft were said to be operating in the area prior to the attack.
The missile strike took place in territory run by Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the Taliban commander who administers North Waziristan. The Pakistani military signed a peace agreement with Bahadar even though he continues to shelter al Qaeda leaders and fighters, and sends his forces to battle the US and NATO in Afghanistan. The last three strikes in Pakistan have taken place in tribal areas run by Bahadar.
Today's strike is the fifth this year and the sixth in 10 days. It is also the sixth strike since a suicide bomber killed seven CIA officials, including the station chief, and a Jordanian intelligence officer, in an attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province. The outpost was used to gather intelligence for strikes against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The suicide bomber, Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, appeared on a martyrdom videotape with Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. On the tape, Balawi claimed he carried out the suicide attack to avenge the death of Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
The pace of the strikes is unprecedented; the US has not conducted six airstrikes in 10 days since the campaign in Pakistan began in 2004.
The US air war in Pakistan has clearly shifted from South Waziristan to North Waziristan. Since the Aug. 5 strike in South Waziristan that killed Baitullah, 20 of the 24 reported airstrikes have taken place in North Waziristan, while the other four were in South Waziristan.
US strikes in Pakistan in 2010:
• US airstrike kills 4 Taliban fighters in North Waziristan
Jan. 9, 2010
• US airstrike kills 5 in North Waziristan
Jan. 8, 2010
• US kills 11 in latest North Waziristan strike
Jan. 6, 2010
• US airstrike kills 2 Taliban fighters in Mir Ali in Pakistan
Jan. 3, 2010
• US kills 3 Taliban in second strike in North Waziristan
Jan. 1, 2010