Friday, March 13, 2009

Drone Strike Kills 21 in Pakistan . NY TIMES


Friday, March 13, 2009 Last Update: 8:00 AM ET



Drone Strike Kills 21 in Pakistan 
Published: March 13, 2009



Three missiles thought to have been fired from remotely piloted American aircraft struck a Taliban training camp in the Kurram area of northwestern Pakistan late on Thursday and killed 21 militants, according to a local government official and news reports on Friday.

Nine other people were injured in the strike around 9.30 p.m. to 10 p.m., directed at a training camp some 20 miles from Parachinar, the capital of the remote tribal area where 31 people were killed in a similar attack on Feb. 16. of Kurram Agency, according to the official, who spoke in return for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The camp was under the command of Fazal Saeed, a local militant commander aligned with Baitullah Mehsud who heads a militant network seeking to topple the beleaguered Pakistan government. The attacks on Mr. Mehsud's camps over the past month represent an expansion by the Obama administration of the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency, carried out largely by drone aircraft.

Under President Bush, the United States frequently attacked militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mr. Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.

Residents and officials in Kurram said on Friday that they see drones flying over the area most days, including on Thursday before the attack in a remote and inaccessible area. The official said it would take some time to evaluate the full impact of the attack.

More than 30 drone strikes have been reported since last September.

The two attacks on camps run by Mr. Mehsud follow his decision to unite with two other militant commanders last month to launch joint attacks against NATO and American forces in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration has announced plans to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, where militants fighting allied troops include those based in Pakistan's remote and lawless tribal areas.

The drone strikes are deeply unpopular with many Pakistanis. Some of the attacks have killed civilians, enraging Pakistanis and making it harder for the country's shaky government to win support for its own military operations against Taliban guerrillas in the country's lawless border region.

The strikes may also be pushing the Taliban, and some Al Qaeda elements, out of the tribal belt into areas such as the Swat valley, where the government recently struck a truce with the Taliban.






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Deaths in Pakistan drone strike , aljazeera

Friday, March 13, 2009
11:27 Mecca time, 08:27 GMT


Deaths in Pakistan drone strike

At least 18 people in Pakistan, including suspected al-Qaeda fighters, have been killed in a missile attack thought to have been carried out by an unmanned US drone.

Security officials said the raid targeted a Taliban camp in northwest Pakistan on Thursday.

Two missiles fired by a drone hit the alleged camp in the tribal area of Kurram, one of seven semi-autonomous regions near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

A senior security official,  speaking anonymously, said: "Twelve militants, mainly Afghan Taliban, were killed in the missile strike at their training centre in Kurram. Dozens are wounded.

"The training centre was run by local Taliban commander Fazal Saeed and training was under way at the time of the strike."

The Taliban has sealed off the area and was retrieving bodies from the rubble of the building, officials said.

Kurram is a known hub for fighters loyal to Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan's most wanted man, and Sirauddin Haqqani, de facto commander of Taliban-aligned groups on the border.

Security officials had earlier said that at least seven fighters had been killed in the attack, including "foreigners" - using a term adopted to mean al-Qaeda operatives.

Repeated strikes

More than 30 such missile attacks have been carried out since August 2008, one month before Asif Ali Zardari was sworn into office as president of Pakistan, killing more than 320 people.

The US military does not confirm drone attacks, but it and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces to deploy drones in the region.

It was the fifth missile attack blamed on unmanned US aircraft since Barack Obama, the US president, came to power, dashing the Pakistani public's hopes that the new administration would abandon the policy.

Obama says fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where US troops are battling the Taliban, pose a grave threat.

Islamabad has repeatedly protested to Washington that drones violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among the 160 million people of the nuclear-armed Islamic nation.



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US missile strikes kill 14 in Kurram Agency


 GEO Pakistan
 US missile strikes kill 14 in Kurram Agency
 Updated at: 2216 PST,  Thursday, March 12, 2009
US missile strikes kill 14 in Kurram Agency KURRAM AGENCY: At least 14 people were killed Thursday in suspected US missile strikes in Kurram Agency.

According to eyewitnesses, US drones fired four missiles on a residential building situated in Barjo area of Kurram Agency, killing at least 14 people.

Sources said that some foreigners were also among the dead. However, it was yet unconfirmed.







Death toll from drone attack in NWFP rises to 24


Pakistan: 10 killed in US missle attack

Hussain Khan
Thu, 12 Mar 2009 21:48 UTC

US drone
© Reuters/File photo
Drone attacks have continued despite official government protests
A suspected US drone targeted a militant hideout in Berju area of Central Kurram tribal region on Thursday evening, officials said. According to unconfirmed reports 10 people had been killed in the attack.

Political Agent Arshad Majeed said that missiles had been fired in Central Kurram, but did not give details about casualties. He told Dawn in Parachinar, the regional headquarters, that four to five missiles were fired in the area.

This was the second drone attack in Kurram tribal region. Two missiles were fired at a suspected compound in Ahmadi Shama village in Lower Kurram on February 16 which resulted in 30 casualties.

Local people said that missiles hit suspected hideouts in Berju, some 80 kilometers east of Parachinar city. The area, they said, was a hub of local and foreign militants. Sources said that local people had started an operation to retrieve bodies and rescue the wounded.

Militants have sufficient concentration in lower and central Kurram which has been encircled by Afghanistan from three sides. Residents said that spy planes were hovering over the area and believed that missiles were fired from a drone.



Mar 12, 2009

Islamabad, Mar 12 At least seven persons were killed in missile strikes carried out by a US drone in Pakistan's Kurram tribal region today.
The US drone fired at least four missiles at a home in a village in Kurram agency, official sources were quoted by TV channels as saying.

There was no official word on the casualties though TV channels and witnesses said seven persons were killed in the attack.

Kurram agency was in the news recently for intense sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni tribesmen that killed hundreds of people.

There were reports of Taliban militants infiltrating the area to back the Sunni tribesmen.

The US has not stopped drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal belt despite Islamabad's protests that such strikes are counter-productive and a violation of the country's sovereignty. There have been more than six drone attacks since US President Barack Obama assumed office. (Agencies)





US missile strike in Kurram agency levels Taliban training camp

The US targeted a Taliban compound in a cross-border strike into Pakistan's tribal areas today. The strike took place in the Kurram tribal agency and was the second attack there since December 2008.

The Predator airstrike hit a Taliban compound and training camp in the Barjo region in Kurram. "The training camp was completely destroyed," a villager told Reuters. At least four Hellfire missiles were reported to have been fired at the camp.

Unconfirmed reports indicate up to 14 people, including "foreigners," were reported killed in the attack. The term "foreigners" is often used to describe al Qaeda operatives sheltering in Pakistan's tribal areas. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders have been reported at this time.

Today's attack is the first since March 1, when Predators targeted a Taliban compound in a region of South Waziristan controlled by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

The first US attack in Kurram took place on Feb. 16 of this year. More than 30 people, including Arab al Qaeda fighters, were reported killed in the attack.

Previous airstrikes have focused on Taliban and al Qaeda training camps and safe houses in the tribal agencies of Bajaur and North and South Waziristan. One other strike hit a Taliban camp in the settled district of Bannu in the Northwest Frontier Province.

The Taliban have expanded their control into Kurram by backing the wave of sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shia in the region. The Shia have been forced into small enclaves in Parachinar and other areas as the Pakistani military has refused to come to their aid.

The Taliban have used Kurram as a training ground for their forces and have established several bases in the agency, an intelligence official familiar with the situation in Pakistan's tribal areas told The Long War Journal on the condition of anonymity.




Taliban commander Hakeemullah Mehsud is behind the attacks on NATO convoys in Khyber and Peshawar. Photo provided to The Long War Journal by Bill Longley..


The Taliban in Kurram are led by Hakeemullah Mehsud, a rising star in the Pakistani Taliban. Hakeemullah is a senior lieutenant and cousin of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud; he is also a cousin of Qari Hussain Mehsud, the notorious Taliban commander who trains child suicide bombers in South Waziristan.

Hakeemullah has been leading operations against NATO's supply lines in Khyber and Peshawar. He also commands the Taliban in the Arakzai and Khyber tribal agencies.

Background on US strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban networks in northwestern Pakistan





Click map for full view.
Taliban presence, by district and tribal agency, the Northwest Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies. Information on Taliban presence obtained from open source and derived by The Long War Journal based on the presence of Taliban shadow governments, levels of fighting, and reports from the region. Map created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal.

US intelligence believes al Qaeda has reconstituted its external operations network in Pakistan's lawless, Taliban-controlled tribal areas. This network is tasked with hitting targets in the West, India, and elsewhere. The US has struck at these external cells using unmanned Predator aircraft and other means in an effort to disrupt al Qaeda's external network and decapitate the leadership. The US has also targeted al Qaeda-linked Taliban fighters operating in Afghanistan, particularly the notorious Haqqani Network.

As of last summer, al Qaeda and the Taliban operated 157 known training camps. Al Qaeda has been training terrorists holding Western passports to conduct attacks, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal. Some of the camps are devoted to training the Taliban's military arm, some train suicide bombers for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, some focus on training the various Kashmiri terror groups, some train al Qaeda operatives for attacks in the West, some train the Lashkar al Zil, al Qaeda's Shadow Army, and one serves as a training ground for the Black Guard, the elite bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and other senior al Qaeda leaders.

There were 36 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan during 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-nine of these attacks took place after Aug. 31. There were only 10 recorded strikes in 2006 and 2007 combined.

During 2008, the US strikes inside Pakistan's tribal areas killed five senior al Qaeda leaders. All of the leaders were involved in supporting al Qaeda's external operations directed at the West.

Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan in January 2008.

Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda's external operations chief, was killed in a strike in Bajaur in March 2008.

Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda's weapons of mass destruction chief, and several senior members of his staff were killed in a strike in South Waziristan in July 2008.

Khalid Habib, the leader of al Qaeda's paramilitary Shadow Army, was killed in a region controlled by Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan in October 2008.

Abu Jihad al Masri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group and member of al Qaeda's top council, was also killed in North Waziristan in October 2008.

In 2009, US strikes have killed two senior, long-time al Qaeda leaders. Osama al Kini and his senior aide, Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, were killed in a New Years Day strike in South Waziristan. Kini was al Qaeda operations chief in Pakistan. Both men were behind the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi, Kenya; which killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others.

US attacks inside Pakistan during 2009:

US missile strike in Kurram agency kills 14
March 12, 2009
US airstrike kills eight in South Waziristan
March 1, 2009
US airstrike in Pakistan's Kurram tribal agency kills 30
Feb. 16, 2009
US Predator strike in South Waziristan kills 25
Feb. 14, 2009
US strikes al Qaeda in North and South Waziristan
Jan. 23, 2009
US hits South Waziristan in second strike
Jan. 2, 2009
US kills four al Qaeda operatives in South Waziristan strike
Jan. 1, 2009




Suspected U.S. Missile Strike Kills 7 In Pakistan

 CBS News Interactive: Pakistan In Crisis

Missiles believed fired from a U.S. unmanned plane slammed into a house used by militants in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing seven people, a government official and a witness said.

The identities of the victims in the attack in Kurram region were not immediately known.

A senior official in the region said the house targeted was believed to be frequented by Islamist militants. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Villager Ismail Khan said spy planes were seen hovering over the area shortly before the attack, adding that local militants had retrieved seven bodies from the destroyed house.

The United States has launched more than 30 missile strikes on al Qaeda and Taliban targets close to the Afghan border since last year, killing many militants, including some senior ones, but also civilians.

The missiles are believed fired from drones launched from neighboring Afghanistan, but the United States rarely acknowledges firing them.

Pakistan routinely protests the attacks as violations of its sovereignty, but many people speculate the two countries have an unwritten deal allowing them.

(© 2009 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)









Death toll from drone attack in NWFP rises to 24

Published: March 13,2009


The death toll in a suspected US missile strike in Pakistan's troubled NWFP has risen to 24, with most of those killed said to be Afghan Talibans.

Two missiles fired by a predator drone stuck a Taliban training camp in Kurram Agency when a combat training session was on, thus, resulting in high 


"24 bodies were recovered from the rubble and handed over to local authorities,"officials said. Senior security officials quoted by local Television said 50 others were injured in the attack and most of these were foreigners, a term used by locals to identify al- Qaeda militants.

It was not immediately known if among those killed there were high value targets. The training camp, TV channels said, was run by a local Taliban commander Fazal Sayeed.

Kurram is one of the seven semi-autonomous regions near Pakistan's volatile border with Afghanistan and has been recently a scene of armed sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni tribesmen.






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Suspected US Drone Strike Hits Taliban Hideout -Officials


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Suspected US Drone Strike Hits Taliban Hideout -Officials

Thursday March 12nd, 2009 / 19h00

 PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP)--A suspected U.S. missile strike struck a Taliban den in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least seven militants, including suspected Al-Qaeda operatives, security officials said.
"The strike was in the Kurram belt. It destroyed a suspected den used by Taliban militants, killing at least seven militants, including foreigners," a senior security official said, adopting a term used to mean Al-Qaeda members.
A second senior security official confirmed the strike and the same details, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. military as a rule doesn't confirm drone attacks, but it and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy drones in the region.








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