According to media outlets today, a suspected U.S. drone attack fired two missiles at a house in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least five and wounding seven. According to CNN, “The strike targeted a home outside the tribal areas that U.S. intelligence says have become a haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters battling U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, and was deeper inside Pakistani territory than previous attacks.” ABC News framed the incident similarly, noting, “The attack was the first to hit an area outside the semiautonomous tribal belt that directly borders Afghanistan, something which could trigger extra anger among Pakistanis.” [Image from the AP]
The Associated Press reported, “Hours after the strike, a large Islamist political party warned it would block two major supply routes for U.S and NATO forces in Afghanistan that run through Pakistan unless the attacks ended.” The news agency quoted Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, who said, “If these missiles attacks continue, then we will ask the people to create hurdles in the way of supplies for NATO.” The AP added, “The party has shown it can easily mobilize thousands of supporters at short notice. The supply lines have never been blocked by protests but militants and criminals often attack trucks traveling with them.” [Left image from the AP of a rally on Tuesday. The slogan reads, “U.S. subservient Pakistani rulers immediately stop the military operation.”]
Earlier this week, Pakistan temporarily blocked supply routes for convoys carrying supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, “after militants hijacked several trucks whose loads included Humvees bound for the US-led coalition,” reported Dawn on Monday. A Washington Post article reported today that, due the rise in Taliban attacks along the NATO supply route, U.S. officials are seeking alternatives, “including the prospect of beginning deliveries by a tortuous overland journey from Europe.” The Post, in its coverage, noted,
About 75 percent of NATO and U.S. supplies bound for Afghanistan — including gas, food and military equipment — are transported over land through Pakistan. The journey begins in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi and continues north through Pakistan’s volatile North-West Frontier Province and tribal areas before supplies arrive at the Afghan border. The convoys then press forward along mountain hairpin turns through areas of Afghanistan that are known as havens for insurgents.
A Pakistani truck driver told the news agency, “The Taliban, they tell us, ‘These goods belong to the Americans. Don’t bring them to the Americans. If you do, we’ll kill you…From Karachi to Kabul there is trouble. The whole route is insecure.” The security situation is further compromised by U.S. missile attacks like the one that occurred today. According to ABC News, the U.S. has been accused of carrying out 20 cross-border attacks since August, although “the U.S. rarely confirms or denies the strikes, which are believed to be carried out mainly by the CIA.” According to GEO News, “A U.S. newspaper calls [these attacks part of] ‘a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy.'”
Although today’s attack could incite further anger among Pakistanis, an Arab Al Qaeda operative were among the five militants killed. Reuters reported that the fighter was identified as Abdullah Azam al-Saudi by an intelligence official based in Dera Ismail Khan. The official told the news agency, “He used to coordinate between Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan, and had also been responsible for recruiting people.” Other news agencies have not yet corroborated these reports.