The US military may have conducted its fifth known strike inside Pakistani territory against the Taliban and al Qaeda bases this year, an unnamed Pakistani official told Reuters.
The airstrike is thought to have been carried out inside the Mohmand tribal agency. “There was an attack by a spy plane close to the Afghan border but we don’t have information about casualties or damage,” the unnamed Pakistani government official said.
The Pakistani government recently negotiated a peace agreement with the Taliban in Mohmand tribal agency. Omar Khalid, the commander of the local Taliban in Mohmand and the representative for the agency in the Pakistani Taliban movement, denies links to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
If confirmed, the Mohmand strike would be the fifth such attack inside Pakistan this year. Two senior al Qaeda operatives were killed in the prior attacks.
Abu Laith al Libi was killed in a US strike inside the North Waziristan tribal agency in Pakistan in late January. Al Libi was the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and served as a chief spokesman for al Qaeda. Laith also commanded al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.
Abu Sulayman Jazairi, a senior Algerian operative for al Qaeda’s central organization, along with 13 associates, was killed in an airstrike against a Taliban and al Qaeda safe house in the town of Damadola in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal agency on May 14. Jazairi is described as a senior trainer, an explosives expert, and an operational commander tasked with planning attacks on the West.
Jazairi is thought to have succeeded Abu Ubaidah al Masri, a senior al Qaeda operative who served as the former operations chief in Kunar, Afghanistan, before becoming al Qaeda operations chief for global strikes. Ubaidah took over for Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, a senior deputy for Osama bin Laden who was personally chosen by bin Laden to monitor al Qaeda operations inside Iraq. Hadi was captured by US forces as he attempted to enter Iraq in late 2006. Ubaidah is believed to have died from complications from an illness.
On March 12, the US military fired guided missiles from Afghanistan into a compound run by Siraj Haqqani, the wanted Taliban leader behind numerous attacks in Afghanistan. The attack is believed to have killed three senior Haqqani network commanders and “many” Chechen fighters.
On March 16, US forces struck at the fortified compound owned by Noorullah Wazir, a Pakistani tribal elder who lived in the village of Dhook Pir Bagh some five kilometers from Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan. Another nearby house, where Uzbek and Arab fighters recently stayed, was also destroyed in a separate round of missile fire.