Last night’s US drone strikes against the Khyber Agency, which killed seven suspects, appeared to be only the tip of the iceberg, as Pakistani officials now report that the United States has launched a salvo of missiles against the agency, killing at least 54.
The major strikes hit in the Spin Darang village, and were said to be targeting a meeting among suspected Lashkar-e Islam members, a group with a strong presence in Khyber which, like virtually every other faction of Pashtuns in the tribal areas, is often referred to as a “Pakistani Taliban” faction.
It is unclear what prompted the Obama Administration’s sudden interest in spreading its drone war into Khyber, far north from its usual targets in North and South Waziristan, nor is it immediately apparent why such moves were taken against the Lashkar-e Islam, a group which has clashed with the Pakistani government but does not appear to be a major player in Afghanistan.
It may simply be a case of escalation for escalation’s sake, as the Obama Administration struggles to claim some measure of progress in the nearly decade long occupation of Afghanistan and seems to be lashing out in odd directions in an effort to turn those claims into something at least vaguely credible.
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