Pakistani military operations in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan have steered clear of North Waziristan, allowing the area to become a haven for militants. Tribal and local intelligence sources say some 15,000 militants shelter in this semiautonomous tribal belt. “It’s a cobweb,” says former Pakistani diplomat Ayaz Wazir. New alliances between militant commanders in Waziristan have turned this area into a dangerous labyrinth, from which fighters can launch suicide attacks in Pakistan or missions against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. “It's an international war which has engulfed us,” says Malik Khan Marjan Wazir, an influential tribal elder in North Waziristan. “The volcano is in Afghanistan but it erupts in our tribal areas.” For Marjan Wazir, peace won't be found through military operations or drone attacks, but in negotiations at what he calls “real” jirgas (tribal assemblies). “My elders would always tell me a story that if a woolen blanket gets leeches, you don’t put to fire the whole blanket. You pluck them out with care.” Based on interviews with local tribesmen and intelligence sources, here’s a list of the five biggest players in the region:
Anja Niedringhaus, an Associated Press photographer, was killed as she waited in a convoy of election workers delivering ballots in Khost. Her colleague Kathy Gannon was wounded.
That two more US troops were killed by an Afghan soldier today is a reminder that the Afghanistan 'surge,' which ended last year, accomplished few of its objectives.
After a heavy weekend of violence, a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform attacked NATO and Afghan forces, killing at least 14 on Monday in the southeastern town of Khost.