US drones launched an attack on sites in South Waziristan today, killing at least 17 and injuring some 27 others according to intelligence officials. The strike came as US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was visiting Pakistani officials in Islamabad.
The attack is the first since US drones attacked a Pakistani funeral procession over a week ago, killing at least 80 including a large number of civilians. Local militants said today’s attack had killed only three of their members, though it remains to be seen how many of the slain were civilians.
Today’s attack targeted militants loyal to Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud, who is the focus of a massive Pakistani military offensive in South Waziristan. The funeral strike was also a failed attempt to assassinate Mehsud.
The attacks in Waziristan took on a different element when it was announced yesterday that the Taliban had captured a US soldier and “sold” him to a Waziri militant leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who was also a popular target for US drone strikes. So far it remains unclear if the soldier is being held in Waziristan or is still in Afghanistan, as the group operates on both sides of the border.