Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts; purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.
The US launched three airstrikes directed at the Haqqani network and al Qaeda operating in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas. At least three separate attacks by US aircraft were reported in Khost province in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency of North Waziristan. The attacks occurred in regions known to be controlled by the powerful, al Qaeda friendly Haqqani family.
“There were two separate attacks in Pakistan,” a senior US military intelligence told The Long War Journal.
The first strike occurred in the village of Mohammad Khel in North Waziristan. Pakistani intelligence sources told news outlets that 21 “suspected militants” were killed in a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle attack, and “most were foreigners.” Sixteen foreign al Qaeda fighters were later reported killed, although none were identified.
The second strike occurred in Datta Khel, also in North Waziristan. A Predator strike hit two homes in the village. Two women and a child were reported killed, and five men were reported wounded.
The Pakistani military denied any violation of its territory. “There was no violation, no incursion or intrusion on our side,” Major General Athar Abbas, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman said.
The US did conduct a strike in a region in Khost province and warned the Pakistani military of the operation, Abbas told Reuters. “ISAF informed us at around 4:00 p.m. (6:00 a.m. EDT) that they were conducting an operation in Afghanistan, across from North Waziristan,” Abbas said.
North Waziristan and Khost province are strongholds of the Haqqani family. The Haqqanis are closely allied with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and have close links with the Inter-Services Intelligence.
The Haqqanis run a parallel government in North Waziristan and conduct military and suicide operations in eastern Afghanistan. Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani have close ties to Osama bin Laden. Siraj is one of the most wanted terrorist commanders in Afghanistan for his involvement in a string of deadly attacks and for recruiting and training foreign terrorists for suicide attacks.
Latest US strike in North Waziristan
Today’s twin strikes in Pakistan make for three attacks over the past three days. The US hit an al Qaeda safe house in Mirali in North Waziristan after a week-long lull in cross-border raids. Mirali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha. He has close links to both al Qaeda and the Taliban, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in January 2007.
The US has stepped up attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas this year after the Taliban and al Qaeda consolidated control in the tribal regions and settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. There have been 12 recorded cross-border strikes since Aug. 31. There have been 22 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan in 2008, compared to 10 strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.
These attacks are designed to interdict al Qaeda’s ability to conduct attacks against the West as well as degrade the Taliban’s support network being used against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Three senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in the attacks.
The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.
The Pakistani military said it had direct orders to “open fire” on any US forces attempting to violate Pakistan’s borders. The military has fired on US helicopters along the border at least three times in September.
US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 2008:
Oct. 3, 2008
Oct. 1, 2008
Sept. 25, 2008
Sept. 22, 2008
Sept. 17, 2008
Sept. 15, 2008
Sept. 12, 2008
Sept. 8, 2008
Sept. 5, 2008
Sept. 4, 2008
Sept. 3, 2008
Aug. 31, 2008
Aug. 31, 2008
Aug. 20, 2008
Aug. 13, 2008
July 28, 2008
June 14, 2008
May 24, 2008
March 16, 2008
March 13, 2008
Feb. 28, 2008
Jan. 31, 2008