US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan
The US has launched yet another airstrike in Pakistan's Taliban controlled-tribal agency of North Waziristan, the sixth in the region in 11 days.
The deadly unmanned Predators and Reapers strike aircraft attacked a compound in the village of Hurmaz, just outside the town of Mir Ali. Four terrorists have been reported killed in the strike, but no senior Taliban or al Qaeda leaders have been reported killed.
"The militants have cordoned off the area and no one is allowed to go there," a Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters, highlighting the extent of Taliban control in the region.
The village is administered by Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the top Taliban commander in North Waziristan. Bahadar is rumored to have been killed in a US swarm attack on March 10 in the Datta Khel region.
Abu Kasha al Iraqi, an Iraqi national who is also known as Abu Akash, also operates in the open in the Mir Ali region. He has close ties to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, and serves as the key link between al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the Taliban. His responsibilities have expanded to assisting in facilitating al Qaeda's external operations against the West.
Today's airstrike in North Waziristan is the sixth in the Taliban and al Qaeda haven since March 16. The last attack took place in the Datta Khel region on March 23. Six Taliban fighters were reported killed in that attack.
The latest strike puts the March total at eight. Since the air campaign heated up in August of 2008, the US has averaged between five and seven strikes a month.
So far this year, the US has carried out 25 strikes in Pakistan; all of the strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. In 2009, the US carried out 53 strikes in Pakistan; and in 2008, the US carried out 36 strikes in the country. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see: Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010.]
Unmanned US Predator and Reaper strike aircraft have been pounding Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in North Waziristan over the past several months in an effort to kill senior terror leaders and disrupt the networks that threaten Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the West. [For more information, see LWJ report, "Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010."]
Most recently, on March 8, a US strike in a bazaar in Miramshah killed a top al Qaeda operative known as Sadam Hussein Al Hussami. Hussami was a protégé of Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda's top bomb maker and WMD chief, who was killed in a US airstrike in July 2008. Hussami was a senior member of al Qaeda's external operations network, and was on a council that advised the suicide bomber who carried out the attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. That attack killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer. The slain intelligence operatives had been involved in gathering intelligence for the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border.