Archive for March, 2012

U.S. drone strikes kill 15 in northwest Pakistan

(Reuters) – U.S. drone aircraft struck twice in Pakistan’s unruly tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 15 suspected militants, including two senior commanders of the Pakistan Taliban, security and intelligence officials said.

In the first strike, a drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Birmal area of the South Waziristan tribal region, killing eight.

Among the dead were Shams Ullah and Amir Hamza, senior commanders of a faction of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Maulvi Nazir, one of the most influential militant leaders in the region.

Seven suspected militants were killed in the second attack later in the day, when a drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Sara Khawra area, which straddles the border between North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

Several militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda, operate in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous border regions, taking advantage of a porous border with Afghanistan to conduct cross-border attacks or plot violence elsewhere.

The usually unacknowledged Central Intelligence Agency’s drone program, an important element of the U.S. counter-terrorism strategy in the region, appeared to have been halted after a NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, sparking fury in Pakistan.

The campaign, using remotely-piloted armed aircraft, resumed on January 10.

The use of drones is opposed by most Pakistani politicians and the public, who consider drone strikes violations of sovereignty with unacceptable civilian casualties.

Despite public opposition, Pakistan has quietly supported the program, which U.S. President Barack Obama ramped up after taking office in 2009.

(Additional reporting by Hafiz Wazir in WANA, Jibran Ahmad in PESHAWAR, Mustansar Baloch in DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Haji Mujtaba in MIRANSHAH, and Ali Afzaal in PARACHINAR; Writing by Mahawish Rezvi; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Daniel Magnowski)

March 13, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Suicide attack at funeral kills at least 11 in Pakistan

A suicide bomber targeted a funeral in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 30 others, officials said.

The blast took place just outside Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said city police official Kalam Khan.

While no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, authorities believe the target may have been members of the Awami National Party.

Khushdil Khan, a party member who is the deputy speaker of the provincial assembly, had gone to the funeral for a local woman. But he left before the attack occurred, police said.

The Awami National Party, which is part of the governing coalition led by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s Pakistan Peoples Party, is often targeted by the Taliban.

In February, an explosion outside a political rally in northwest Pakistan killed five people and wounded 10, officials said.

March 11, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Qaida confirms death of Badr Mansoor

Al-Qaida has confirmed the death of one of its commander in Pakistan, Badr Mansoor, saying he was killed in an American drone strike last month.The U.S.-based SITE monitoring service said on Friday that the confirmation came in a video statement released on an Internet forum.The video says Badr Mansoor was killed on Feb. 9 close to the Afghan border. He was alleged to have run a training camp for militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.CIA drone strikes inside Pakistan are one of the main sticking points in tense relations between Washington and Islamabad. Their frequency has dropped in recent months.

March 9, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

MQM denies receiving money from ISI

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement rejected on Thursday allegations that its chief Altaf Hussain had received money from the country’s prime spy agency in the late 1980s and said the party leadership had a clean record and clear conscience and was ready to defend itself at every forum.
In a statement, an MQM spokesman said government agencies had made numerous attempts to purchase Mr Hussain’s loyalty and in 1988 Brigadier Imtiaz of the ISI had brought money for him from Gen Hamid Gul, but he faced refusal. This was acknowledged by Brigadier Imtiaz some time ago in media interviews.
Likewise, in 1990 Brigadier Hamid brought money to Mr Hussain from General Mirza Aslam Beg, but Mr Hussain again refused to accept that, the statement said, adding that allegation levelled against the Muttahida and its leader by the former head of Mehran Bank about accepting the money through Yousuf Advocate was an “utter lie”.
“The MQM condemns it in the strongest possible terms. Attempts are being made to mislead the public by making fabricated and baseless allegations against Mr Hussain,” the spokesman said.

March 9, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More