Having drawn down the number of drone strikes against Pakistani territory to almost nothing in recent months, the US was surprisingly aggressive today in North Waziristan, launching two strikes in 24 hours, killing 16 people.
The first attack killed six “suspects,” in Dargah Mandi, destroying a truck and setting a nearby house on fire. The second strike hit in Dande Darpakhel village, killing 10 people and wounding four others.
Though the Pakistani government is back to the old strategy of labeling everyone slain “suspects,” none of the victims in either attack were actually named, and there was no indication the US even suspected they had a high-profile target in sight.
There has been speculation that the recent calm was in part due to almost having killed POW Bowe Bergdahl in previous strikes in the region, and some were predicting Bergdahl’s recovery might give the US a free hand to escalate the attacks again. Whether today’s attacks portend a new escalation or are a one-off situation remains to be seen.