Archive for the ‘drone’ Category

Pakistan leader meets with Rice on missile strikes

November 13, 2008

Pakistan’s president pressed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday to halt cross-border U.S. missile strikes targeting militants in his country’s volatile tribal regions, the Pakistani foreign minister said.

“These drone attacks are unproductive, and they are contributing to alienation as opposed to winning people over,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in an interview after briefing reporters on the 20-minute meeting between Rice and President Asif Ali Zardari.

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice laughs while ...
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice laughs while mingling with diplomats on the floor of the General Assembly hall at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. The occasion was the gathering of world leaders attending a two-day U.N. conference to promote a global dialogue about religions, cultures and common values. President Bush is speaking on Thursday.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The U.S. military is believed to have carried out at least 18 missile attacks on suspected militant targets close to the border in Pakistan since August. The missiles are believed to be fired from unmanned planes launched in Afghanistan, where some 32,000 U.S. troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban insurgency.

The strikes also should be halted to avoid the inadvertent deaths of civilians, Qureshi said. “In fact, what is required is more sharing of intelligence information. What is required is building Pakistan’s capacity to deal with insurgency,” he said.

State Department officials declined to comment on the meeting.

President-elect Barack Obama‘s incoming administration presents a fresh opportunity for Pakistan to emphasize more dialogue and development, Qureshi said.

US Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance ...
Pakistani President Zardari has repeatedly objected to U.S. use of drones like this.  DoD photo

“We’ll be discussing with them a more comprehensive strategy. Because Pakistan is of the view that military means is not the be-all and the end-all,” he said.

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Suspected U.S. missile hits Pakistan

November 7, 2008

Despite urgings from pakistan to the United States to halt the drone air attacks in the tribal areas, the US continues to rain down death on the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militants inside Pakistan….


US Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance ... 
US Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance drone. At least 10 Al-Qaeda-linked militants were killed Friday in a suspected US missile strike on a tribal area in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, a senior security official told AFP.(AFP/DoD/File/Jeffrey S. Viano)


A suspected U.S. drone fired a missile on Friday into Pakistan‘s tribal region of Waziristan on the Afghan border, killing 10 people, security officials said.

It was the latest in a string of nearly 20 suspected strikes by pilotless U.S. drones since the beginning of September but the first since Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election.

Pakistan objects to the strikes as not only a violation of its sovereignty but counter-productive to its efforts to tackle militants behind surging violence in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A Pakistani intelligence agency official said the strike was on a house in North Waziristan but a military official said the attack was in South Waziristan. Both regions are al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries on the Afghan border.

“It happened close to the border. We have reports of 10 dead but it will take time to get more information,” said a military officer.

U.S. forces have stepped up attacks on militants in Pakistan in response to concern about worsening security in Afghanistan.

Scores of people have been killed in missile strikes and a September 3 cross-border commando raid, but no top al Qaeda or Taliban leaders have been reported to have died.

Nuclear-armed U.S. ally Pakistan is also battling militants on its side of the border but says cross-border U.S. strikes undermine efforts to isolate the militants and rally public opinion behind the unpopular campaign against them.

The United States has shrugged off Pakistani protests. It says the attacks are needed to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan and kill Taliban and al Qaeda militants who threaten them.

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Security officials inspect the site of an earlier suicide attack ... 
Security officials inspect the site of an earlier suicide attack in Mingora. At least 10 Al-Qaeda-linked militants were killed Friday in a suspected US missile strike on a tribal area in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, a senior security official told AFP(AFP/Chand Khan)

Pakistan says next US leader must stop attacks

November 4, 2008

The next U.S. president must halt missile strikes on insurgent targets in northwest Pakistan or risk failure in its efforts to end militancy in the Muslim country, the prime minister warned Tuesday.

Yousuf Raza Gilani said visiting U.S. Gen. David Petraeus “looked convinced” when he warned him the strikes were inflaming anti-American sentiment but that he got no guarantee the attacks would end.

Gilani‘s remarks in an interview with The Associated Press underscore how shaping a policy to deal with the militant threat in nuclear-armed Pakistan and its new civilian leaders will be a key task for the next U.S. president.

They also revealed the rising strain the missile strikes have placed on relations between the two nations seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks forced them into an uneasy alliance.

By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writer

In this picture released by Press Information Department, Pakistan's ... 
In this picture released by Press Information Department, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, right, meets U.S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus, center, and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, left, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday, Nov.3, 2008. Pakistan on Monday urged the general taking charge of America’s two wars to halt missile attacks on militants in its border badlands and avert a backlash against the U.S. in a country vital to its fight against terrorism.(AP Photo/Press Information Department, HO)

“No matter who the president of America will be, if he doesn’t respect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan … anti-America sentiments and anti-West sentiment will be there,” said Gilani in his heavily guarded residence atop a hill in the capital, Islamabad.

Democratic candidate Barack Obama has said if he is elected, he could launch unilateral attacks on high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan as they become exposed and “if Pakistan cannot or will not act” against them. Republican rival John McCain says engaging Pakistanis is vital to defeating extremists and that cross-border strikes shouldn’t be discussed “out loud.”

As Gilani spoke, several thousand Pakistanis demonstrated against the strikes in a town in the border region and the southern city of Karachi, burning U.S. flags, witnesses said.

Over the last two months, the U.S. has launched at least 17 strikes on militant targets on Pakistan’s lawless side of the Afghan border.

The region is home to scores of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters believed involved in attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, where violence is at its highest levels since the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

The missile strikes are widely seen as sign of increasing frustration in Washington at Pakistan’s unwillingness or inability to tackle the threat emanating from the region, which is believed to be a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

The strikes — and a highly unusual ground attack by U.S. forces in September — have killed at least 168 people, including some top extremists but also many civilians, according to Pakistani officials.

The prime minister said the attacks, which have occurred in semiautonomous tribal regions, were “uniting the militants with the tribes. How can you fight a war without the support of the people?” he said.

He said the U.S. should cooperate with his country’s military, sharing intelligence, to allow Pakistan to go after the targets itself.

“Either they should trust us and they should work with us, otherwise, I think it’s a futile exercise,” he said.

He also said the missile strikes served as a distraction to Pakistan’s own military operations against insurgents in its border regions. The army is currently in the midst of two major anti-insurgent operations in the northwest.

“Their strategy is not coinciding with our strategy,” Gilani said. “Our strategy is to take one area at one time.”

On Monday, Gillani and other Pakistan leaders held talks with Petraeus, who is making his first tour of the region since taking over U.S. Central Command last week, a post that puts him in charge of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has met with President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, among other senior leaders.

Missile strike from drone in Pakistan kills Taliban commander

October 28, 2008

A suspected US missile strike in Pakistan has killed 16 people, including a Taliban commander accused of launching cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Two missiles fired from a drone hit a training camp in the South Waziristan tribal area. Meanwhile, the Taliban have claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a police station in northern Afghanistan in which one American was reported killed and six people were wounded. In a separate incident, five Afghan civilians were injured when German troops fired at a van that failed to stop at a checkpoint.

From: Deutsche Welle

A Pakistani tribesman stands at a collapsed house hit by the ...
A Pakistani tribesman stands at a collapsed house hit by the missiles in North Waziristan district bordering Afghanistan on October 10, 2008. A Pakistani Taliban commander accused of launching cross-border attacks in Afghanistan was among 16 people killed in a suspected US missile strike, a senior official said Monday.(AFP/File/Thir Khan)

Another Missile Strike in Pakistan: Target is Militant Leader

October 17, 2008

By Candace Rondeaux and Shaiq Hussain
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, October 17, 2008; Page A21

KABUL, Oct. 16 — A suspected U.S. missile strike near the headquarters of a top Taliban leader in Pakistan’s tribal areas Thursday killed six people and injured five others, according to Pakistani intelligence officials and residents.

The attack occurred late Thursday morning, said Ikramullah Mehsud, a resident, when a U.S. Predator drone fired several missiles on two homes in the town of Ladha, in the tribal area of South Waziristan.


A Pakistani intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the bombardment had killed at least two extremist commanders believed to be of Arab origin.

“The others killed were most likely local militants, but we don’t have any information about the owners of the two houses that were bombed,” the official said.

The Pentagon had no comment on the strike.

As Pakistani efforts to control the flow of Islamist insurgents across the border into Afghanistan have faltered this year, U.S. missile attacks on insurgents sheltering in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal areas have increased.

There have been 12 such attacks in the region since August. Most of the recent strikes have occurred in South and North Waziristan, which are believed to be the main operational bases for top al-Qaeda leaders.

Thursday’s attack in South Waziristan was notable because it marked the first aerial assault in more than a year on a well-known redoubt of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, according to another Pakistani intelligence official.

The official said there was no indication that Mehsud was nearby when the attack occurred. But residents told authorities that several Arab men believed to be allied with the Taliban had recently been seen in the area.

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Pakistan: U.S. Drone Attacks Foreign Militants in Previously, Isolated, Untouched Area

October 16, 2008


A US drone has fired a missile for the first time in territory controlled by Pakistan’s most wanted militant, Baitullah Mehsud, officials say.

Local people say that at least one person was killed in the attack in South Waziristan. Intelligence officials said five people died.

Reports say the drone may have been targeting a group of Uzbek militants.

Department of Defence (DOD) file photo shows an unmanned Predator ...
A drone like this was probably responsible for the latest strike…..

Meanwhile, police in the district of Swat say a suicide bomber has killed at least two policemen.

Civilian casualties

There have been a series of US drone attacks inside Pakistani territory along the border with Afghanistan in recent weeks….

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Associated Press

The missile strike in South Waziristan hit a house overrun with foreign and Pakistani militants since last year, when its owner fled the remote, forested area considered a likely hiding place for al-Qaida leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, officials said.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials told The Associated Press that reports from informants and field agents suggested one foreign militant died and another foreigner was injured. Asked if any al-Qaida leaders had been hit, the officials said Arabs were living in the house but the identities of the victims were not yet clear.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media publicly.

A local resident, Javed Mehsud, said he saw a number of unmanned planes in the sky before and after three explosions destroyed the house in the village of Tapargai.

“I could see smoke rising but nobody dared go to look because the spy planes were still over our area,” he said by telephone.

U.S. military and CIA drones that patrol the frontier region are believed to have carried out at least a dozen missile strikes against suspected militant targets since August.

The U.S. rarely confirms or denies involvement in the attacks, which have intensified amid frustration in Washington at the escalating insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.

All of the recent strikes, as well as a highly unusual raid by helicopter-borne commandos, have been in the regions of North and South Waziristan, key strongholds for Islamic militants fighting on both sides of the border.

With Pakistan’s army also stepping up operations in its volatile northwest, militants have responded with a sequence of bloody suicide attacks, including last month’s truck bombing of Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel.

Thursday’s blast wrecked a police station in Swat, a picturesque valley where fighting has raged for more than a year.

Police said insurgents opened fire on their station in Mingora, Swat’s main town, after midnight with guns and rockets before the bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle next to the police compound.

District police chief Dilawar Bangash said one officer and three paramilitary troops died and 26 people were injured, many of them seriously.

Meanwhile, security forces backed by tanks and warplanes opened a second major front in the nearby tribal region of Bajur in August.

Seven militants were killed Thursday in Bajur by plane and helicopter gunships attacks, said Jamil Khan, the No. 2 ranking government representative in Bajur.

However, there are doubts about whether Pakistani security forces can defeat the militants without inflicting heavy civilian casualties and eroding support for the country’s pro-Western government.

Western governments worry that al-Qaida is regrouping in the border zone and that would-be terrorists from Europe and North America are going there to receive training.

Pakistan‘s political and security problems are deterring foreign investment and exacerbating the country’s economic problems, which include runaway inflation and slowing growth.

On Thursday, the Pakistani rupee dropped to more than 82 to the dollar, continuing a slide that has seen it lose more than 30 percent of its value this year.

Also Thursday, prison guards seized grenades and handguns from Islamist militants after a protest at a jail in Dir in volatile northwestern Pakistan. Authorities said inmates were protesting poor food and a lack of decent space for meeting visitors.

Pakistan: Another Apparent U.S. Missile Strike on Terrorists

October 11, 2008

By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD, Associated Press Writer

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – A suspected U.S. missile strike killed three people late Saturday in a town near the Afghan border, the latest in a series of attacks in a region where top al-Qaida leaders are believed to be living, two intelligence officials said.

Two unmanned drones were seen above Miran Shah in north Waziristan minutes before missiles hit a factory in the town, they said, based on reports from informants in the town.

Department of Defense (DOD) file photo shows an unmanned Predator ...
Above: U.S. Predator drone can be missile armed….

The pair said three people were killed, but no other information was immediately available. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.

Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters have established bases throughout Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal regions, where they are said to plan attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as violence in Pakistan.

Under U.S. pressure, Pakistan has carried out military offensives against insurgents while also trying to woo various tribes to turn against extremists. But in recent weeks, the U.S. has signaled its impatience with Pakistani efforts.

The U.S. is suspected in at least 11 missile strikes on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border since mid-August, killing more than 100 people, most of them alleged militants, according to an Associated Press count based on Pakistan intelligence numbers.

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