Thursday, August 6, 2009

Baitullah Mehsud's Wife Killed by UAV Attack in South Waziristan

Via The Long War Journal -

The US may have came close to killing Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in an airstrike on a compound in South Waziristan today.

Unmanned US strike aircraft fired two Hellfire missiles at a compound owned by Ikramuddin Mehsud, Baitullah's father-in-law, in the village of Zanghra, near Baitullah's home town of Makeen in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan.

Baitullah's second wife and two Taliban fighters were killed in the attack; four children were reported to have been wounded. Baitullah was not killed in the attack, his second wife's cousin told Reuters.

It was thought Baitullah was visiting his wife when the strike occurred, a US intelligence official with knowledge of the air campaign in Pakistan told The Long War Journal.

Today's attack in South Waziristan is the first since July 17, when US aircraft killed five Taliban fighters in a region controlled by North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar.

The US has shifted the focus of its covert air campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas almost exclusively against Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan. Of the 32 US strikes carried out in Pakistan this year, 23 of them have taken place in South Waziristan.

Baitullah Mehsud's territory has been hit 15 times and Mullah Nazir's areas have been hit eight times. Both Nazir and Baitullah host al Qaeda training camps and shelter senior leaders of the terror group. Eight of the last 10 attacks have targeted Baitullah's camps and safe houses.

The US is well on its way to exceeding last year's total of 36 airstrikes in Pakistan.

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