The US killed 18 “militants” in three Predator airstrikes today in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
The first strike took place just outside of Miramshah in the town of Danda Darpa Khel. The strike targeted a compound, killing 10 “militants,” Pakistani security officials told AFP. The US Predators returned to Danda Darpa Khel and struck again at another compound, killing four more Haqqani Network fighters, according to Dawn.
The village of Danda Darpa Khel is in the sphere of influence of the Haqqani Network, the al Qaeda-linked Taliban group led by mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj. The Haqqani family runs the Manba Ulom madrassa in the village of Danda Darpa Khel, a hub of activity for the terror group. The US has struck at targets in Danda Darpa Khel seven times since Aug. 20, 2009, and nine times since September 2008.
The other strike took place in the town of Ambor Shaga in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. Three missiles were fired at a vehicle, killing four more “militants.”
No senior Taliban or al Qaeda commanders have been reported killed in any of the three strikes, and the targets of the attacks are not known.
Datta Khel is the stronghold of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a Taliban commander who is viewed as “good Taliban” by the Pakistani military as he does not advocate attacks on the Pakistani state. Bahadar supports attacks in Afghanistan and shelters al Qaeda fighters in tribal areas under his control.
Datta Khel also serves as a headquarters for al Qaeda. The US has killed top al Qaeda leaders Mustafa Abu Yazid, Abdullah Said al Libi, and Zuhaib al Zahib in strikes in the area over the past year. [For more on al Qaeda’s presence in Datta Khel, see LWJ report, US strike kills 5 in al Qaeda haven in North Waziristan].
Four of the last six Predator strikes in Pakistan have all taken place in Datta Khel. Five Taliban were killed in a strike on Sept. 6. Nine Taliban fighters, including a commander known as Inayatullah, were killed in a strike on a compound in Datta Khel on Sept. 3. And eight Taliban fighters were killed in a strike on a compound and a vehicle in Datta Khel on Sept. 4.
With today’s strikes, the US has carried out 61 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 six of this year’s 61 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. Of the six strikes that have occurred outside of North Waziristan, four took place in South Waziristan, one occurred in Khyber, and one took place in Kurram.
Since July 2008, unmanned US Predator and Reaper strike aircraft have been pounding Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in the tribal areas in an effort to kill senior terror leaders and disrupt the networks that threaten Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the West. [For more information, see LWJ report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.]
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