The US killed five “militants,” including several Uzbeks, in the first drone strike in Pakistan in nearly a month.
The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or Reapers fired several missiles at a compound in the village of Lawara Banga in the Shawal Valley area of North Waziristan, according to news reports from the region. Five jihadists, including three Uzbeks were killed, and three more militants were seriously wounded in the strike.
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 Uzbeks may have been members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, whose leader recently swore allegiance to the Islamic State, or the splinter Islamic Jihadi Union, which remains loyal to the Taliban and al Qaeda. Both groups are known to operate in North Waziristan.
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 jihadist groups gather in the Shawal Valley and then enter Afghanistan to fight US, NATO, and Afghan government forces.
The US has launched 28 drone strikes in the Shawal Valley since September 2010, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. The last recorded strike in the Shawal Valley took place on June 6. Nine members of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is close to al Qaeda, were killed.
Senior jihadist commanders have been killed in the area in the past. 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.
Yesterday’s drone strike in North Waziristan is the tenth reported in Pakistan this year. Last year, the US launched 24 airstrikes inside Pakistan; 19 of them took place in North Waziristan, four in South Waziristan, and one in Kurram. The number of operations in Pakistan has decreased each year 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.]
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.