The US killed four ‘militants’ in the first airstrike in a week in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan.
A flight of Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired three missiles at a moving vehicle in the town of Marsi Khel near Miramshah in North Waziristan, Dawn reported. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban fighters have been reported killed at this time.
The strike in Marsi Khel is the second in the town in 10 days. On April 24, US Predators hit a compound in Marsi Khel, killing seven Taliban fighters.
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. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered “good Taliban” by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry attacks inside Pakistan.
US strikes in Pakistan, by the numbers
Today’s strike is the first reported inside Pakistan this month, and the first in seven days. On April 26, US aircraft killed eight Taliban fighters in a strike in Khushali Toorkhel .
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 32 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