US launches new strike in Pakistan, Taliban commander reported killed
The US launched a second strike in South Waziristan, and a senior Taliban commander in the lawless tribal agency has been reported killed in an earlier strike on Sept. 21.
Unmanned US Predators or the more powerful Reapers fired two missiles at a vehicle in the village of Khand Morsak in South Waziristan, according to reports in The Nation and Xinhua. Eight people were reported killed in the Sept. 21 strike.
In an earlier strike, in the town of Azam Warsak, also in South Waziristan, a senior aide to Mullah Nazir, the top Taliban commander in the area, was reported to have been killed along with 15 fighters. In the initial reports, five militants were said to have been killed.
Mullah Shamsullah, the Taliban commander who was reported killed, served as the spokesman and second in command for Mullah Nazir.
"He was an important and the strongest Taliban leader in Wana and literally ruled on behalf of al Qaeda leader Mullah Nazir in the area," according to Xinhua. While Nazir is not an al Qaeda leader, he is closely allied to the terror group and provides aid and shelter to its top leaders and fighters. [For more information on Mullah Nazir,and his links to al Qaeda and Mullah Omar see LWJ report, US strike kills 16 in South Waziristan.]
Shamsullah's death has not been confirmed by the Taliban.
The Predator strikes, by the numbers
The pace of the strikes this month is unprecedented since the US began the air campaign in Pakistan in 2004. Today's strikes make for four in three days, and put the total at 17 this month.
The US has carried out 71 attacks inside Pakistan this year. The US exceeded last year's strike total of 53 with a strike in Kurram late last month. In 2008, the US carried out 36 strikes inside Pakistan. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2010.]
All but eight of this year's 71 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. Of the eight strikes that have occurred outside of North Waziristan, six took place in South Waziristan, one occurred in Khyber, and one took place in Kurram.
The US campaign in northwestern Pakistan has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda's external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states.