US Predators kill 6, including 'foreigners,' in North Waziristan strike


The US killed six "militants," including foreigners, in the second drone strike in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal area of North Waziristan in two days, after a two-month lull in strikes.

Today's strike took place in the village of Dogga near Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan. The unmanned Predators or Reapers fired a pair of missiles at a vehicle in the village, Pakistani intelligence officials told Reuters.

"The missiles hit two cars that were heading towards the [Afghan] border. Several foreigners were in the cars, but we have no information on their nationalities yet," an intelligence official told Reuters. Pakistani officials often use the term "foreigners" to describe members of al Qaeda and other non-Pakistani terror groups operating in the country.

Today's strike takes place just one day after four "militants," including three "Arabs," were killed in a drone strike that hit a compound on the outskirts of Miramshah.

The Haqqani Network, a Taliban group that operates in North Waziristan as well as in eastern Afghanistan, administers the area where the strikes yesterday and today took place. Al Qaeda leaders and operatives, who are closely allied with the Haqqani Network, shelter in the area, as do other terror groups.

Yesterday's strike was the first by the US in Pakistan in 55 days. The previous 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 and ejected US drones and personnel from the Shamsi Airbase in Baluchistan.

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.

The back-to-back strikes over the past two days signal that the moratorium on the drone program in Pakistan has now been lifted.



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READER COMMENTS: "US Predators kill 6, including 'foreigners,' in North Waziristan strike "

Posted by AMac at January 12, 2012 11:19 AM ET:

I interpret the resumption of strikes in Waziristan to mean that the U.S. no longer places a priority on getting Pakistani authorities to re-open the two closed border crossings.

Possible explanations:

(1) The U.S. believes that the Northern Routes plus airlift can handle logistical requirements.

(2) The U.S. has concluded that the Pakistani government can't or won't re-open the Khyber/Chaman crossings in any case.

(3) Given the history of Pak. Army and ISI wink-and-nudge sanctioning of burning and bombing of supply trucks, the Karachi-Kabul and Karachi-Kandahar routes are of little benefit at this point.

Posted by Paul at January 12, 2012 12:34 PM ET:

Bill,

Are the Predators flying from Afghanistan only now?

Posted by mike merlo at January 12, 2012 2:23 PM ET:

I believe the length of the 'moratorium' was 'also' due to the 'downed' drone in Iran. There were obviously some technical issues that needed remedying.

Posted by flloyd at January 12, 2012 2:57 PM ET:

finally, i think maybe the pak are finally giving us a list of acceptable people to target. build up the so called good taliban and elimante the so called arabs,the pak as always out thinking us

Posted by NUS at January 12, 2012 5:38 PM ET:

The first drone attack was on Jan 11. The Prime Minister of Pakistan removed the Deputy Defense Minister of Pakistan on Jan 11 or 12 in an attempt to lessen PakMil influence on the the government of Pakistan. The second drone attack occurred on Jan 12. One might think, was this a green light from the Prime Minister of Pakistan to the drones?

Posted by KaneKaizer at January 12, 2012 8:10 PM ET:

My guess was that either the CIA had located a very high value target or that the first strike targeted a lower-level fighter as a "test" to see if there would be any significant backlash. At this rate though, looks like the drones are making a comeback.

Posted by Devin Leonard at January 13, 2012 5:03 PM ET:

This is good. The US is showing the backstabbing Paki SOBs that we don't need their permission to conduct drone attacks anymore then we need Afghan permission to conduct night raids with our Spec Ops forces. The Taliban is now back to cowering in fear!

Posted by Setrak at January 13, 2012 7:14 PM ET:

NUS,
I wouldn't assume that all or even most political moves in Islamabad have anything to do with drones. The military and civilian government are on very tense terms right now. We need to know before guessing on whether drones are taking off from Afghanistan or the old base in Pakistan, or whether the Pak army has anything to do with allowing the strikes to continue.

Posted by Zeissa at January 19, 2012 7:52 AM ET:

Even if Pakistan allows the use of their territory it should not be used. Do not allow a duplicitous 'friend' to do you any favor.