Top Taliban commander targeted in U.S. attack in Pakistani tribal area
The controversial effort by the United States to go after Taliban strongholds inside Pakistan is sparking outrage in Islamabad.
US predator drones struck the Pakistan base of a top Taliban commander on Monday, the latest hit in a concerted and controversial effort by the United States military to go after Taliban targets inside Pakistan. The aerial attack comes days after NATO troops crossed over into Pakistan to engage Taliban targets, sparking outrage from Pakistan's government.Skip to next paragraph
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Monday's attack was said to have targeted a compound in the North Waziristan tribal area belonging to Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the Taliban's most powerful and longest-running commanders, Reuters reports. Mr. Haqqani is believed to have escaped.
Missiles fired by U.S. drones killed 16 people, including Pakistani and Afghan Taliban fighters, on Monday in a strike targeting a religious school founded by an old friend of Osama bin Laden, intelligence officials and Pakistani villagers said....
"No foreign militant was killed," [a senior intelligence officer] added, although a junior intelligence official had said earlier that Uzbek and Arab militants had been staying in the school complex.
Haqqani is a veteran of the Afghan jihad of the 1980s. He was trained, equipped, and financed by both the Central Intelligence Agency as well as Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, according to a profile compiled by PBS Frontline. During the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, Haqqani emerged as a prevalent warlord and now commands the loyalty of fighters in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is currently based in North Waziristan.
Reuters reports that Haqqani's son, Sirajuddin, has lately taken over the reins for his father, who is believed to be ailing.
One of Haqqani's younger sons said his father and son Sirajuddin had been away from the house at the time.
While the senior Haqqani is believed to be in poor health and less active, Sirajuddin has been leading the Taliban faction.
"Haqqani and Sirajuddin were in Afghanistan at the time of the attack. They are alive," Badruddin, the commander's third son, told Reuters by telephone."
On Friday, three children and two women were slain in the same region during a suspected strike by a pilotless aircraft.
At least five militants were also killed the day before when a missile fired from an unmanned plane hit a house in the North Waziristan village of Mohammad Khel, officials said.
The latest strike follows Pakistani claims that US-led forces based in Afghanistan killed 15 people in a border village in neighbouring South Waziristan district last week.
That incident was condemned by Pakistan's parliament and the foreign minister who issued a tough statement calling the incident "shameful" and stating that only women and children had been targeted.