The toll of Friday’s US air strike in North Waziristan has risen to 24, and according to residents and Pakistani officials Taliban in the area are unusually upset over the strike, which has led to speculation that a high ranking militant may have been among those killed, though as of yet there has been no confirmation of that.
Pakistani officials say that the Taliban has been moving aggressively since the strike, including accusing locals of being government spies. Residents also say that the Taliban warned them against commenting on the strike or inspecting the rubble.
Neither US nor Pakistani spokesmen would comment on the news officially, but President Asif Ali Zardari has called for a special session of parliament to receive a briefing from army and intelligence officials about the ongoing situation in the tribal areas: a rare event since ex-President and Army Chief of Staff Pervez Musharraf’s 1999 coup left the military practically unanswerable to elected officials.
CIA Director Michael Hayden said last month that US strikes in the border area were an attempt to “tickle” militant groups and provoke a reaction. It appears that in this case, they’ve succeeded in doing so. Whether the reaction is as devastating to Pakistan as last month’s bombing of the Islamabad Marriott Hotel remains to be seen.