US drone kills 14 Pakistani militants from group linked to Faizal Shahzad
A major drone strike Tuesday in North Waziristan against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan killed 14 militants from the group suspected of training accused Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
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A rain of drone-fired missiles killed 14 suspected militants Tuesday in northern Pakistan, local officials said, as the US and the Pakistani Army upped the pressure on a group believed to be responsible for the failed Times Square bombing attempt.
North Waziristan, where the attacks were launched, has been a stronghold of Al Qaeda and its ally Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani wing of the Taliban. American officials claim to have evidence that TTP trained Faisal Shahzad, the accused Times Square bomber, though a spokesperson for the TTP has denied that.
Counts varied of how many missiles were fired from the drones, with CNN reporting that 18 struck two vehicles and several compounds in succession. This was the third US drone attack on the region since the Times Square bomb attempt on May 1, although The New York Times reports that there is "no indication that the strikes on Tuesday were retaliation for the bombing attempt."
As is customary, American military officials would not confirm that US drones launched the missiles. The US is the only force known to be operating the unmanned planes in the area, which it has done since 2008, according to the BBC.
A low estimate of militant kills by drones in Pakistan so far this year is 152, according to the New America Foundation. (See the Washington think tank’s map of drone strikes in Pakistan here.) The strikes are also believed to have killed hundreds of innocent villagers, stirring public anger that terrorist groups have sought to capitalize on. Pakistan’s government has also publicly said the attacks fuel support for militants, though it is believed to tacitly support them.
The TTP founder, warlord Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a drone strike last August. His young and reportedly ruthless successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, vowed revenge for his death. He was reportedly killed a missile attack himself, but resurfaced in April, threatening to attack US cities, according to AFP: