Friday, March 9, 2012

US drones kill 13 in South Waziristan strike

Unmanned US Predator or Reaper strike aircraft killed 13 "militants" in an airstrikes in the Miramshah and Mir Ali areas of Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of south Waziristan today. The strikes broke a three-week-long lull in US attacks in the tribal areas.

The CIA-operated drones fired a pair of missiles at a vehicle and a home in South Waziristan, according to Dawn News, killing 13 people. Pakistani officials said that 12 "militants" were killed in the strike, according to The Associated Press.

The exact target of the strike was not disclosed. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban commanders have been reported killed.

US strikes in Pakistan in 2012

Today's strike is the first in Pakistan's tribal areas in 21 days, and just the eighth this year. It is just the first in South Waziristan. The other seven strikes took place in North Waziristan; six of those strike have taken place in or around Miramshah in North Waziristan, a stronghold of the Haqqani Network.
The program has been scaled down from its peak in 2010, when the US conducted 117 strikes. In 2011, the US carried out just 64 strikes in Pakistan's border regions. With just 8 strikes in the first 10 weeks of 2012, the US is on a pace to carry out just 42 strikes in Pakistan this year.
The first strike this year took place on Jan. 11; it was the first by the US in Pakistan in 55 days. The previous strike took place on Nov. 16, 2011. The pause was the longest since the program was ramped up at the end of July 2008 [see LWJ report, US drone strikes in Pakistan on longest pause since 2008, from Dec. 19, 2011].

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