Unmanned US attack aircraft struck in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan today, ending a nearly two-month-long pause in strikes that have targeted al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and fighters.
The Predator or Reaper drones launched a pair of missiles at a compound on the outskirts of Miramshah, the main town in the terrorist haven of North Waziristan, according to Geo News. Four “militants” were killed and the compound was set ablaze.
The identities of those killed have not been disclosed. Three “Arabs” are said to be among those killed, according to Pajwhok Afghan News.
The Haqqani Network, a Taliban group that operates in North Waziristan as well as in eastern Afghanistan, administers the area where today’s strike took place. Al Qaeda leaders and operatives also shelter in the area.
Today’s strike is the first by the US in Pakistan in 55 days. The last strike took place on Nov. 16, 2011. The pause was the longest since the program was ramped up at the end of July 2008 [see LWJ report, US drone strikes in Pakistan on longest pause since 2008, from Dec. 19, 2011].
The program was put on hold after US and Pakistan Frontier Corps troops clashed in the Afghan province of Kunar and the Pakistani tribal area of Mohmand on Nov. 25-26. US troops struck in Pakistan after taking mortar and machine gun fire on the Afghan side of the border from Pakistani troops. Twenty-four Pakistani Frontier Corps troops were killed.
The clash led to Pakistan’s closure of the border crossings in Chaman and Khyber to NATO supply columns destined for Afghanistan. In the aftermath of the Mohmand incident, Pakistan also threatened to shoot down US drones flying in Pakistani airspace.
US officials told The Long War Journal on Dec. 12, 2011 that the program was put “on hold” due to tensions over the Mohmand incident, but that the drones would strike again if a high value terrorist target that could not be ignored was spotted.