US airstrike targets Haqqani Network, kills 5 in North Waziristan

The US launched its second Predator airstrike in Pakistan in three days, targeting a compound in a village known as a stronghold of the Haqqani Network in the Taliban-controlled tribal Agency of North Waziristan.

Five people were killed and three more were wounded when unmanned US strike aircraft, either the Predator or more deadly Reaper, fired missiles at a compound in the village of Danda Darpa Khel, a village just outside of Miramshah in North Waziristan, according to Dawn.

Today's strike is just the third this month, and the 52nd this year. The US will match last year's strike total with the next attack in Pakistan. The last strike took place on Aug. 21, and also targeted the Haqqani Network in the town of Anghar Kala. Six people were reported killed.

The village of Danda Darpa Khel is in the sphere of influence of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban group led by mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj.

The Haqqani family runs the Manba Ulom madrassa in the village of Danda Darpa Khel, a hub of activity for the terror group. The US has struck at targets in Danda Darpa Khel six times since Aug. 20, 2009, and eight times since September 2008.

The Haqqanis are closely allied to al Qaeda and to the Taliban, led by Mullah Omar. Siraj Haqqani is the leader of the Miramshah Regional Military Shura, one of the Taliban's top four commands. In addition, Siraj sits on the Taliban's Quetta Shura and is also a member of al Qaeda's Shura Majlis. The Haqqanis are based on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, and operate primarily in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika.

Another top leader of the Haqqani Network is Nasiruddin Haqqani, a brother of Siraj. In July, the US Treasury added Nasiruddin to the list of specially designated global terrorists. Nasiruddin has traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2004-2009 to carry out fundraising for the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

The US has been targeting the Haqqani Network in Pakistan as part of its Predator air campaign. On Feb. 18, the US killed Mohammed Haqqani, another of the 12 sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, in an airstrike in Danda Darpa Khel, just outside Miramshah. Mohammed had served as a military commander for the Haqqani Network. Over the past year, Siraj Haqqani and his military commander, Mullah Sangeen Zadran, have been the targets of several strikes.

Despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign groups in North Waziristan, and requests by the US that action be taken against these groups, the Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on the Haqqani Network or allied Taliban leaders Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Mullah Nazir. The Haqqanis, Bahadar, and Nazir are considered "good Taliban" by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan. The US military has been lobbying Pakistan to take on the Haqqani Network, but has recently eased the pressure after recognizing that the Pakistani government has no interest in tackling the al Qaeda-linked group.

For more information on the recent strikes in Pakistan, see US Predator strike kills 6 in North Waziristan.