The US carried out yet another airstrike in an area known to be an al Qaeda haven in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
Unmanned US Predators or the more deadly and capable Reapers launched an attack against two “militants” riding motorcycles in the town of Darazinda in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. Two missiles were fired at the motorcycles, and two more were fired “when two of their colleagues rushed towards them,” a Pakistani intelligence official told AFP.
Four “militants” were reported killed in the strike, but their affiliation to terror groups is unclear. No senior Taliban or al Qaeda commanders have been reported killed.
The Datta Khel area is administered by Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the Taliban commander for North Waziristan. Datta Khel serves as a command and control center for al Qaeda’s top leaders. Several of al Qaeda’s top commanders, including Mustafa Abu Yazid, the chief financial official and commander in Afghanistan, and Abdullah Said al Libi, the commander of al Qaeda’s military, have been killed in Predator strikes in Datta Khel in the last year. [For more information on al Qaeda’s presence in Datta Khel, see LWJ report Latest US Predator strike kills 5 in al Qaeda hub in North Waziristan.]
The pace of the strikes this month is unprecedented since the US began the air campaign in Pakistan in 2004. Today’s strike is the second in two days, and the 15th this month. Eight of the 15 strikes this month have hit targets in the Datta Khel area.
The US has carried out 69 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.]
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.
The areas controlled by Bahadar and by the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network have been hit especially hard this year. Despite the fact that Bahadar and the Haqqani Network shelter al Qaeda and other South and Central Asian terror groups, the Pakistani government and military refuse to take action in North Waziristan. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are viewed as “good Taliban” as they do not attack the Pakistani state.