US Hits Taliban and Al-Qaida Targets
The US is reported to have fired two pairs of missiles at a compound in northwestern Pakistan last Thursday. The missiles were fired from an unmanned aircraft at targets where a meeting was being held of about 40 militants who were most likely members of al-Qaida and the Taliban. The area along the Afghan border in the Datta Khel area of the North Waziristan tribal region is known to be a main sanctuary for the Taliban and al-Qaida in Pakistan.
It is not clear exactly how many of the militants were killed. One group of Pakistani intelligence officials gave the number to be 25, while another group said the number was more likely 34.
The militants were attached to one of the more prominent of the Pakistani Taliban commanders in the region, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who has recently been stepping up his fight against foreign soldiers in Afghanistan.
US Firing Missiles Since 2004
It is far from a new undertaking for the US to fire missiles at militant targets in Pakistan. Such actions have been going on since 2004; however the pace of the missile strikes has increased substantially since 2008. Just last year, in 2010, the US launched 120 such strikes. All the strikes are carried out by unmanned drones and are launched either from inside Afghanistan or Pakistan itself. So far this year about 20 such strikes have been launched, the majority of them in taking place in the North Wazinstan region.
The US does not acknowledge officially that it engages in such actions, and because journalists are forbidden access to the area there is no reliable way to verify the number of dead. The missile strikes have been officially protested to by Pakistani leaders, but it is widely believed that Pakistani intelligence groups cooperate in some of the strikes.