US drone strike kills 15 in North Waziristan

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The US conducted another drone strike in the Pakistani province of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), resulting in the death of 15 suspected pro-Taliban insurgents. The attack is the seventh in a time period of 96 hours. The attack occurred in the North Waziristan Agency on today’s early morning and targeted the village of Hasukhel, which is located close to the Afghan border. According to the local sources, there were two separate attacks, with the first one targeting a residential compound, and the second targeting a passenger vehicle used by the militants.

Local journalists from Mir Ali claimed that most of the dead were members of the al Qaeda affiliated militant group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The IMU, which is banned in all the Central Asian states and in Russia, is estimated to have hundreds of its members scattered in the Pakistani provinces. The leader of the movement, Tohir Abduhalilovich Yo‘ldoshev was killed in an American drone strike on August 27, 2009. In addition to the ethnic Uzbek members, the group is also believed to have recruited several dozens of ethnic Tajik, and Turkmen fighters from the Central Asia.

In a related development, the Pakistani English language daily Dawn reported that the US has approved a $1.18 billion military aid package to Pakistan. The measure is likely to tone down Pakistan’s reaction to the increasing number of American drone strikes in its territory. The newspaper also reported that Pakistan many consider the opening of the Southern Distribution Network (SDN). The SDN is the main NATO supply route for its troops in Afghanistan.

The North Waziristan Agency is the base of the Haqqani Network, an al Qaeda affiliated group, which has been on the US priority-list for quite some time now. Many of the drone attacks, which occurred in the last few days seems to have targeted the leaders and training facilities of the network in FATA.

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