It's Obama's War Now: US Drones Fire on Pakistan Tribal Area

It's Obama's War Now: US Drones Fire on Pakistan Tribal Area

by
Craig Brown

Al Jazeera is reporting:

At least 19 people have been killed in two missile attacks by suspected US drones flying over northwest Pakistan.

In the first assault, three missiles were launched on a house in North Waziristan close to Afghanistan, intelligence officials and witnesses said on Friday.

"According to initial information, five militants including foreigners were killed," one official said.

Ismail Wazir, a resident, said: "Nine bodies have been pulled out the rubble."

The house was in the village of Zharki, near Mir Ali, and was hit shortly after 5pm local time.

The second attack, just a few hours later, hit near Wana in South Waziristan. Ten people are said to have died.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Pakistan, Kamal Hyder, said: "The attacks are the first since President Barack Obama took office and announced his special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and, more importantly, on the eve of tribal chieftains meeting the president of Pakistan."

Tribal chiefs are expected to raise the issue of US drone attacks, which have killed civilians as well as armed fighters, and provoked considerable anger in the region.

Frustrated over what it sees as Pakistan's failure to stem the flow of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from its tribal regions into Afghanistan, the US stepped up cross-border attacks last year.

It carried out about 30 attacks using pilotless drones in 2008, according to a Reuters tally, more than half after the beginning of September.

The attacks have killed more than 220 people, according to Pakistani intelligence agents, district government officials and residents.

Pakistan objects to the attacks, saying they are a violation of its territory and undermine its efforts to tackle increasing fighter activity.

No change

The strikes come one day after Obama, the new US president, appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistan had hoped the new US administration would review its policy although during his election campaign had Obama spoken about the possibility of further missions in the area.

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, and General Ashfaq Kayani, the chief of Pakistan's military, met David Petraeus, the US Central Command chief, in Islamabad on Tuesday to discuss ways that the US could assist the country in combating extremism.

US and Afghan officials have said Pakistan is not doing enough to combat fighters in the region, who have crossed over from Afghanistan to attack US and Nato troops.

Pakistan rejects those accusations.

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/01/2009123144715473921.html

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