Hellfire hits more Taliban al Qaeda targets in Pakistan

NY Times:

An American drone aircraft hit a militant compound in South Waziristan on Sunday night, killing 20 people, including two important local Taliban commanders known for their attacks against American soldiers in Afghanistan, a senior government official and a local resident said Monday.

One of the dead commanders, Eida Khan, was wanted by the Americans for his cross-border attacks from bases in Waziristan, the government official said. The other commander, Wahweed Ullah, worked with Arabs who were part of Al Qaeda, the local resident said.

Mr. Ullah, in his late 20s, was known as an ideologically committed fighter who specialized in attacks against Americans in Afghanistan, the resident said.

The drone launched a missile attack on a compound in the village of Manduta, close to Wana, the capital of South Waziristan, about 20 miles from the border with Afghanistan.

Mr. Khan and Mr. Ullah, as well as two brothers of Mr. Khan, were affiliated with the militant network of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a senior Taliban figure with close connections to Al Qaeda, said the official and the local resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The strike was part of an escalating campaign by the Bush administration to hit the Taliban and their Qaeda backers at their bases in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The attack appears to have been the 19th by a remotely piloted Predator aircraft in the tribal areas since the beginning of August. In the first seven months of 2008, there were five such strikes.

...

Mr. Ullah, who was usually in North Waziristan, was believed to have been visiting the compound in Manduta to pay his respects to the families of those killed in an American drone strike on Friday on a madrasa in North Waziristan run by Mr. Haqqani.

...

The Americans were concentrating on Taliban and Qaeda forces that attack American and coalition troops in Afghanistan but were ignoring militants operating in Pakistan, a senior Pakistani official in the administration that oversees the tribal region said Monday.

“The Americans are not interested in our bad guys,” the official said. He was referring in particular to Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban leader, who Pakistani authorities say is responsible for planning many of the suicide bombings in the country in the last 18 months.

...
Pakistan remains incoherent in its objections to US efforts to help them defeat the Taliban. We have offered significant help which has been rejected. At the same time the Pakistanis complain about the intensity, they wonder why we are focusing mainly on the people trying to kill our guys. Duh.

The increased intensity of attacks suggest that we have more assets int he area and that is allowing us to increase the operational tempo. We also are clearly getting better intelligence these days.

This will have a psychological effect on the enemy, not to mention the kinetic effects. I suspect that they will be less likely to attend funerals in the future too.

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