The US killed nine Afghan Taliban fighters in an drone strike in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan today.
The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or Reapers fired two missiles at a compound in the village of Zoya Saidgai in North Waziristan Shawal Valley, killing nine jihadists. The compound “is said to be a hideout of the Afghan Taliban,” Dawn reported. All nine jihadists killed in the US airstrike “were associated with the Afghan Taliban,” sources told the Pakistani news agency. The fighters were members of the Haqqani Network, according to AFP.
The identities of those killed were not disclosed. The Taliban and other jihadist organizations such as al Qaeda that are known to operate in the Shawal Valley have not announced the deaths of any senior leaders, commanders, or operatives.
The US has targeted members of the Afghan Taliban inside Pakistan in the past. The Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is closely allied with al Qaeda and is based in North Waziristan, has been the recipient of 93 of the 386 recorded drone strikes that have occurred in Pakistan since 2004, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. The US also targeted a camp belonging to Bahram Khan Kochi, an Afghan Taliban commander, in Kurram in 2009.
The Shawal Valley, which is administered by Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar and spans both North and South Waziristan, is a known haven for al Qaeda and other terror groups operating in the region. A number of Taliban, Pakistani, and foreign terrorist groups gather in the Shawal Valley and then enter Afghanistan to fight US, NATO, and Afghan government forces.
The US has launched 27 drone strikes in the Shawal Valley since September 2010, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. Abdul Shakoor Turkistani, the former emir of the Turkistan Islamic Party, was killed in a strike in August 2012; while three al Qaeda military trainers were killed in an attack there in August 2013.
Today’s drone strike in North Waziristan is the eighth reported in Pakistan this year. The last attack, on June 1, targeted a vehicle in the Shawal Valley. Four “foreign” jihadists are said to have been killed.
The US has stepped up attacks in the Shawal Valley. Of the eight strikes that have taken place so far this year, five were in the Shawal Valley. No senior jihadists are reported to have been killed in the five strikes in the Shawal Valley.
Last year, the US launched 24 airstrikes inside Pakistan; 19 of those strikes took place in North Waziristan, four in South Waziristan, and one in Kurram. The number of operations in Pakistan has decreased since the program’s peak in 2010, when 117 attacks were recorded by The Long War Journal. [See LWJ report, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2015.]