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Terrorism & Security

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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His cousin and the TTP's so-called master trainer of suicide bombers, Qari Hussain, claimed responsibility for the May 1 bomb plot in New York.

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Although the claim was initially dismissed, Washington says it now has evidence that the TTP was behind the attack and that the Pakistani-American who allegedly drove the car bomb, Faisal Shahzad, as working at its behest.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned of "very severe consequences" if an attack against the United States were traced back to Pakistan.

Why Shazhad, an MBA who was raised in Pakistan and has a wife and kids, may have turned to terrorism is unclear. Washington has urged Islamabad to act in rooting out terrorists and ridding itself of environments that produce them, though it faces significant challenges, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

"We still see some soft corner in the heart of the military establishment for other militant groups. So it's at least likely that the Pakistani military at this time – after putting so much pressure against TTP – won't go after other groups and risk losing the ground they have made against the TTP," says [Abdul Basit, researcher at the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad.]

The US may not let Pakistan continue their narrow focus on TTP, however. Much may hinge on what groups – if any – Shahzad interacted with in Pakistan. If the TTP alone were involved, the push for a full-scale North Waziristan offensive would lessen.

Tuesday's reported strike followed fierce fighting Monday between militants and the Pakistani Army in tribal villages near the Afghanistan border. About 200 Taliban attacked an advancing military unit, the Daily Times newspaper quoted officials as saying. Casualties in the shootout were lopsided, with nine soldiers and 40 TTP dead. The Pakistani military launched an offensive into the northern district of Orazkai Agency in mid-March, after militants retreated there following an Army push up through the south.

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