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On 12 August, 12 militants, including "three Turkmen, some Arabs and Waziri tribal fighters" were killed when a UAV fired four Hellfire missiles on Shnawana village in South Waziristan, The News reported on 14 September. According to the report, three Pakistan Army helicopters were also seen flying over the area.
The strike on 28 July on a mosque in South Waziristan was considered a major breakthrough for the US forces as a top Al-Qa'idah expert on chemical and biological weapons, Mursi al-Sayid Umar also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, was reported to be killed. (ARY One World website, 28 July). Another report in Ummat newspaper said that al-Masri's son was also killed in the strike. The same report also suggested that Al-Qa'idah leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was the target of the attack.
Prior to the series of recent strikes, Pakistani TV presenter Kamran Khan in his show on 15 July said that American and allied forces had started arriving near the border across Pakistan's North Waziristan and South Waziristan in large numbers. He added that the deployment of American and allied troops equipped with helicopters, heavy machineguns and artillery is hinting that, perhaps, a "major military operation" is about to be launched at the Afghan border next to North Waziristan and South Wazirstan.
On 2 July, Pakistani paper Jasarat had suggested that operations were being launched in tribal areas following the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher.

[Description of Source: Caversham BBC Monitoring in English -- Monitoring service of the BBC, the United Kingdom's public service broadcaster]


Pakistan: Militants Deny Killing of Arabs in Recent Missile Attacks by US Drones
SAP20080912102006 Islamabad The News Online in English 12 Sep 08
[Report by Mushtaq Yusufzai: "No Arab killed in US attack: Haqqani family"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
PESHAWAR: Taking strong exception to media reports about the death of Abu Haris -- al-Qaeda's head in Pakistan -- and three other Arab nationals in the attack on the house of veteran Afghan jehadi commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Haqqani family Thursday rejected all such reports saying it was a malicious propaganda aimed at justifying killing of their innocent family members.
One of Jalaluddin Haqqani's family senior members called The News from an undisclosed location and said there was no truth in media reports which reported that Abu Haris and three other Arab nationals, Abu Hamza, Abu Musa and Qasim were killed in the airstrikes carried out by US drone on one of their houses at Danday Darpakhel village near Miramshah on Monday morning.
"Abu Haris is a Jordanian and has been a close friend of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani since jihad time when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. He has never been part of al-Qaeda and is currently based at Sato Kandao area of Paktika province in Afghanistan," said family sources of the veteran Afghan Taliban commander, wishing not to be named.
Also, they denied reports of the killing of three other Arab nationals in the attack on their house, in which around 25 people were killed and the equal number was injured. "We don't know who these people are. We had never heard about them before. It is an attempt to justify airstrike on the house of Haqqani's son-in-law Yahya, in which mainly women and children belonging to the family of Afghan Taliban commander were killed," said the sources close to the Haqqani family.
The sources said an elder sister, a daughter, daughters-in-law and grandchildren of Jalaluddin Haqqani and four security guards of the house were killed in the attack. The sources also confirmed that some guests from Afghanistan were also killed when the CIA-operated drone fired six hellfire missiles on the house.
The rest killed in the bombing were girls of the village who had come there to learn the holy Qura'an and other Islamic teachings. Also, the sources said, there was no truth in media reports that two wives of Jalaluddin Haqqani were also killed in the airstrikes.
"Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani has two wives- one Afghan and another Arab. His Arab wife is living with her sons in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and his Afghan wife is living in the family old house in Miramshah," explained the sources close with the Haqqani family.
It merits a mention here that some media organisations reported that al-Qaeda's Pakistan chapter leader Abu Haris and three more Arabs were killed in the drone attack on the house of Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Meanwhile, suspected militants on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday fired 19 rockets from adjoining mountain peaks on the military camp in Miramshah.
Our Miramshah correspondent Malik Mumtaz reported some of the rockets fell on the Miramshah Grid Station, causing disruption in power supply to most parts of the tribal region. Suspected militants also fired rockets on Mirali FC camp which, according to military authorities, did not cause any human and material loss.
The security forces later fired mortar and artillery shells towards the places from rockets were fired on them. It may be recalled that tribal militants led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur on Monday threatened to launch attacks against the security forces if the government did not stop US drones flying over tribal regions and firing hellfire missiles and killing innocent tribesmen. The militant group, which is considered as pro-government, threatened to avenge the missile attack on the house of Jalaluddin Haqqani.

[Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English -- Website of the widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Hardcopy circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk]



AFP: Missile From 'Suspected' US Drone Kills 12 People in Pakistan
SAP20080912018002 Hong Kong AFP in English 1108 GMT 12 Sep 08
[AFP Report: "Suspected US missile kills 12 in Pakistan: official"]
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Sept 12, 2008 (AFP) -- A missile from a suspected US drone killed 12 people Friday in a Pakistani tribal area where US forces have been aggressively targeting Al-Qaeda militants -- fuelling anger from Washington's key "war on terror" ally.
The missile hit a house on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, a local official said, in the fourth such strike in a week aimed at Taliban or Al-Qaeda fighters hiding out in the rugged tribal area.
"The pre-dawn strike destroyed the house and 12 people were killed," the official told AFP, adding that another 14 people were wounded.
The 12 were believed to be rebel fighters, locals said, adding that the house hit in the Tol Khel area had been rented by an Afghan militant organisation, Al Badar, and was being used as an office.
Al Badar, backed by former guerrilla leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has previously conducted operations against Afghan and international forces based across the border in Afghanistan, residents and a security official said.
Hekmatyar was briefly prime minister of Afghanistan in the 1990s after the end of its Soviet occupation.
He has backed the Taliban since the regime was removed from power following the US-led invasion of the country in 2001, after the September 11 attacks in the United States, and has demanded the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Missile strikes targeting militants in Pakistan in recent weeks have been blamed on US-led coalition forces or CIA drones based in Afghanistan. Pakistan does not have missile-equipped drones.
Thirty-eight people, including women and children, have been killed in the past week's missile attacks.
Pakistan and the United States have been drawn into a row over the strikes, with Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani this week strongly criticising them and insisting no deal existed to allow foreign troops to conduct them.
As well as missile strikes, Pakistan last week for the first time accused Afghanistan-based troops of carrying out a direct attack on its territory, a raid in the South Waziristan tribal zone that left 15 people dead.
The Pakistani army reiterated its position Friday, with an official statement, quoting Kayani, pledging to safeguard the country's "territorial integrity."
US and Afghan officials say Pakistan's tribal areas are a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who sneaked into the rugged region after the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001.
Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are widely believed to be hiding in the mountainous region.
A separate strike in North Waziristan on Monday targeted but failed to hit top Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, but did kill four mid-level Al-Qaeda operatives, a security official and a militant source said.
With tens of thousands of US and other international troops locked down in Afghanistan, US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Michael Mullen said Wednesday he had ordered a new strategy covering both sides of the border with Pakistan.
The New York Times also reported that US President George W. Bush in July secretly approved orders enabling Special Operations forces to conduct ground operations in Pakistan without Islamabad's prior approval.
In other unrest, meanwhile, Pakistani troops bombed Taliban positions for the second day running in a tribal town near the Afghan border, killing up to 23 militants, officials said.
Up to 100 Islamic fighters were killed in bombing on Thursday in different areas of Bajaur district, a hotbed of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]


Pakistan: Predator Attack on Tribesman's House Kills 12 People in Miranshah Area
SAP20080913101001 Islamabad The News Online in English 13 Sep 08
[Report by Mushtaq Yusufzai & Malik Mumtaz: "US missile strike kills 12 in North Waziristan"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
MIRAMSHAH/ PESHAWAR: Another CIA-operated spy plane intruded into Pakistan's territory in North Waziristan Agency early Friday and fired two Hellfire missiles.
Senior government officials based in Miramshah told The News that the Predator had attacked an alleged training camp of militants from the Punjab. The officials claimed that all the 12 people who were killed in the attack were hardcore militants belonging to Jihadi commander Ilyas Kashmiri's group. The residents, however, claimed the dead included women and children.
Soon after the missile strike, some unidentified miscreants attacked a military convoy, which was on its way to Bannu from Miramshah near the Chashma Pul, injuring two security personnel.
In retaliation, the troops also fired shots at the attackers, wounding four tribesmen who were travelling in a passenger coach. Tribal sources told The News that two spy planes had been flying over the villages of North Waziristan Agency along the Pak-Afghan border for the past 24 hours. The residents said one of the planes, apparently a US Predator, fired two Hellfire missiles on a house owned by a tribesman Sadim Khan in Tolkhel village, two kilometres east of Miramshah. The residents, who immediately reached the spot for rescue work, said they had recovered 12 bodies.
According to the villagers, all of the dead were local residents belonging to Sadim Khan's family. The sources said the missile attack also damaged some other adjoining houses in the village, seriously injuring 10 people. The injured were rushed to various hospitals of Miramshah.
However, senior government officials based in Miramshah told The News that the Predator had attacked an alleged training camp of militants from the Punjab. The officials claimed that all the 12 people who were killed in the attack were hardcore militants belonging to Jihadi commander Ilyas Kashmiri's group.
They confirmed that a US Predator had fired two missiles at the school building that was being used by the militants.The officials said some tribesmen living near the alleged training centre were also killed and injured in the attack.
Sources close to the tribal militants operating in the NWA denied reports that the school building hit by the US spy plane was a training centre and those killed were militants."Every time after the US attack, the government people exaggerate casualties and play up the importance of the victims," said a tribal militant commander based in Miramshah, who wished not to be named.
It was the second attack in one week by the US planes in North Waziristan Agency. In an earlier attack carried out by the US Predator on one of the houses of veteran Afghan Taliban commander, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, on Monday at Danday Darpakhel village near Miramshah, 25 people were killed and several others were injured.

[Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English -- Website of the widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Hardcopy circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk]


AFP Told: Residents Say US Missiles Kill 21 Near Afghan Border in Pakistan


JPP20080914058001 Hong Kong AFP in English 0223 GMT 14 Sep 08
[Nasrullah Khan, "US Drones Bring Fear And Firepower To Qaeda War in Pakistan" -- AFP headline]
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Sept 14, 2008 (AFP) - Two air-to-ground missiles ripped through the sky before smashing into the house where a Taliban leader with close links to Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding.
"There was a glittering flash of light and a prolonged roar," said Hameedullah Khan, one of the first on the scene of Monday's suspected US drone strike in the Pakistani town of Dande Darpa Khel, near the Afghan border.
Two white drones circled the area for hours ahead of the attack that left 21 people dead, including women and children, residents told AFP.
"We recovered 10 bodies. Some were mutilated, some charred. We could not identify if the victims were locals or foreigners. But we could distinguish that children were among the dead," Khan said.
Missile strikes targeting Islamic militants in Pakistan's rugged tribal areas in recent weeks have been blamed on US-led coalition forces or CIA drones based in Afghanistan. Pakistan does not have missile-equipped drones.
In the past 12 days, five strikes have been carried out, targeting suspected Taliban or Al-Qaeda bases.
The reputed target of Monday's attack, veteran Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, was not among those killed, and the devastation left on the ground seems only to have strengthened the Taliban's influence on local civilians.
"After about an hour, the Taliban turned up," said Khan, who helped in the rescue work at Dande Darpa Khel.
"They ringed a building and erected a tent (to treat casualties) nearby," the 35-year-old said.
"Then they recovered more bodies and wounded who were sent to hospital."
Washington says Pakistan's mountainous tribal regions have become a safe haven for Islamic fighters waging an insurgency against international troops based across the border.
But the increasingly frequent missile attacks, for which the United States has not claimed responsibility, are straining Pakistan's relationship with its key ally.
Civilian deaths have stirred local anger and embarrassed the Pakistani government, already struggling to tackle the militancy that has seen 1,200 of its own people die in bombings and suicide attacks in the past year alone.
Pakistan's army, itself engaged in fierce clashes against militants linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the border regions, has also condemned what it sees as unilateral US action that violates the country's sovereignty.
Residents in Dande Darpa Khel say until recently, one drone would comb the region late at night or early in the morning. But now, two or three will fly together, around the clock.
"They keep on flying in our skies with full immunity and people are scared," said Abdus Khan, a 22-year-old student, adding that the prospect of further attacks may lead people to flee the area.
The US believes that Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are hiding in the tribal regions, but Pakistan security officials say the increase in missile attacks is ineffective.
"Pakistan's army is fully-fledged in crushing Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters," a senior military official told AFP.
"The Americans must show patience and let us succeed in our strategy. When they launch unilateral strikes it is only counter-productive," he added.
Riffat Hussain, head of peace and conflict studies at Islamabad's National Defence University, said the strikes were undermining the fight to combat militancy in the tribal belt.
"This is playing into the hands of the extremists, especially when civilian collateral damage is much higher than the actual damage the Americans think they are causing to militant outfits or sanctuaries," Hussain said.
"These attacks will further strain Pakistan's efforts to play up to its role as a key ally of the United States in the global fight against terrorism."
str-sz-rj/adm/sst

[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]



Pakistan Report: No Major Al-Qa'ida, Taliban Leader Killed in Recent US Strikes
SAP20080915098015 Islamabad The News Online in English 15 Sep 08
[Report by Hamid Mir: "No al-Qaeda or Taliban leader was killed in recent US strikes"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
Monday, September 15, 2008
MIRAMSHAH: No prominent Taliban or al-Qaeda leader has been killed in recent US air strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas, a visit to the area has revealed.
All the injured victims of the US air strikes admitted in hospitals in Miramshah and Bannu are women or children. Four Arabs killed in the Dande Darpakhel area close to Miramshah last week were not associated with al-Qaeda. One of them, Abu Harris, has been living in North Waziristan since 1987.
Some media outfits had claimed that Abu Harris was the al-Qaeda chief in Pakistan but the local Taliban in Dande Darpakhel area told this scribe that Abu Harris was an old friend of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, who has not been an active militant for the last 20 years.
Family sources of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani claimed in Dande Darpakhel that Abu Harris was a Jordanian of Palestinian origin. He came to Pakistan in the early '80s to fight against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He participated in the great battle of Khost in 1987 along with Haqqani. He never joined al-Qaeda, which was created in 1988 in Peshawar immediately after the death of General Ziaul Haq in a plane crash.
Abu Harris tried to go back to Jordan in 1989 but was unable to as he was wanted by the Jordanian authorities due to his links with some anti-government clerics. He moved to Dubai for some time but finally he settled down in Miramshah, where Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani was also living with his family.
Abu Harris was married to a local woman. He moved to Khost in 1995 but came back to North Waziristan after 9/11. He was living in a home next to the Madrassa of Haqqani for many years. The local administration of North Waziristan was aware that Abu Harris was an Afghan Jihad veteran and currently was not associated with militancy in Afghanistan.
During a long journey from Kohat to Miramshah, this scribe noticed that many areas in the south of the NWFP as well as in the tribal belt are no more under the full control of the government. These areas are managed by different militant groups, who have no central command structure. The security forces control only some major roads but have very little control over the villages or small towns in the area.
Meanwhile, a large number of local youngsters are getting frustrated and are joining different militant groups to continue their Jihad. There are three major militant groups in North Waziristan who often refuse to accept the authority of each other.
Miramshah is controlled by Utmanzai Wazir militants while the Mir Ali area is controlled by Dawar militants. Some Uzbek militants are living in the forests of Shawal area but US planes have never targeted them. Local militants accept Baitullah Mehsud as their Ameer, but now they are not in touch with him on a regular basis and make their own policies and decisions.
This scribe recorded many interviews in the Dande Darpakhel area on camera with the permission of the local Taliban. A militant group stopped and detained this scribe for many hours near Bannu and snatched the camera on our way back to Bannu. When I asked them to speak to the Taliban leaders in Miramshah, they said that they had no links with them.
These militants said that the Miramshah Taliban were controlled by Qari Gul Bahadur, who was loyal to Baitullah Mehsud but they were loyal to Commander Umar Khalid alias Abdul Wali, who runs a big training camp in Mohmand Agency.
They claimed that Qari Gul Bahadar was pro-Pakistan but they were no hypocrites. When I asked them why the US planes are not targeting Umar Khalid in Mohmand, they just laughed and cautioned that I should not dare come to Bannu again because they will soon "liberate" the area.
It is learnt that Umar Khalid is a new commander, who is hiring only those boys in Fata whose families suffered during the recent operations.

[Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English -- Website of the widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Hardcopy circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk]


Pakistan: Bomber Rams Explosive-Laden Car Into Convoy in N Waziristan; 12 Killed


SAP20080921103010 Islamabad The News Online in English 21 Sep 08
[Report by Malik Mumtaz & Mushtaq Yusufzai: 12 killed in NWA suicide attack on Army convoy]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
MIRANSHAH/ PESHAWAR: Following a few months of tense calm in North Waziristan Agency, a suicide bomber on Saturday rammed his explosive-laden car into a military convoy near Miramshah, killing 12 people, 10 of them reportedly security personnel and two civilians.
Also, 12 people, majority of them security personnel, sustained serious injuries in the suicide attack and were airlifted to a military hospital in Bannu.
Sources told The News that a suicide bomber, who had parked his explosive-laden Toyota car at a filling station near Nawrak village in Mirali, drove to the main Bannu-Miranshah road soon after sighting a military convoy on the road.
According to military officials, the convoy came under attack when its was on its way to Miramshah, the headquarters of the militancy-hit North Waziristan Agency, from Mirali.
Official and tribal sources from Miramshah said 12 people, including 10 Army soldiers and two civilians, were killed and a similar number of people were injured in the attack. They said three vehicles of the military convoy were destroyed in the explosion.
Eyewitnesses said a nearby petrol pump also caught fire and an oil tanker parked there was blown up.
Villagers said there was already a curfew-like situation on the Bannu-Miranshah road as the military convoy was scheduled to pass through the area.
According to residents, the security forces after the blast opened indiscriminate fire in the air due to which the busy Bannu-Miramshah road was blocked for all types of traffic. There were also unconfirmed reports that two tribesmen were killed in firing by the security forces.
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