Unmanned US strike aircraft killed seven Taliban fighters during an attack today in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency of North Waziristan.
A flight of Predators or the more deadly Reapers hit a Taliban compound after dusk in the town of Marsi Khel near Miramshah in North Waziristan. The Predators fired their missiles at the compound, according to a report by AFP. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban fighters have been reported killed at this time.
Today’s airstrike took place in a region administered by North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani and Central Asian jihadi groups shelter in Bahadar’s tribal areas, and they also run training camps and safe houses in the region. The Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on Bahadar or the Haqqani Network, a deadly Taliban group that is closely allied with al Qaeda and is also based in North Waziristan.
Yesterday, the Taliban in North Waziristan ambushed a military convoy, killing two officers and six soldiers. The Taliban claimed 20 soldiers were killed in the attack. The military has not responded to the violation of a peace agreement it has with Bahadar.
US strikes in Pakistan, by the numbers
Today’s strike is the fourth reported inside Pakistan this month, and the first after an eight-day lull. On April 16, US aircraft fired seven missiles at two vehicles and a compound near Miramshah.
The US is well on its way to exceeding last year’s strike total in Pakistan. So far this year, the US has carried out 30 strikes in Pakistan; all of the strikes this year 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 prot