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Air Strikes Hit Militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD — Drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan have struck Taliban and Haqqani networks in the past week. The attacks were aimed at two leaders who planned and directed attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

NATO has confirmed a missle strike in eastern Afghanistan on Friday killed Maulawi Dadullah, a leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The operation in Kunar province also killed at least a dozen other insurgents.

NATO says Dadullah was responsible for the movement of Taliban fighters and weapons as well as attacks against Afghan and coaltion forces.

A U.S. attack on Tuesday reportedly killed a top commander of the Haqqani terrorist network in northwestern Pakistan. Militant sources on Saturday confirmed the death of Badruddin Haqqani, believed to be behind a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

Retired Pakistan Brigadier General Asad Munir said the killing of Haqqani would cripple the network, but only temporarily.

“It is going to have a very significant impact on the activities of the Haqqani network," he said. "Their movement is going to be disrupted and restricted, and then their logistics and operational capability for the time being, for some days, is going to be I think, highly affected.”

There have been a number of CIA-operated drone strikes in the border area the past week, destroying several housing compounds. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry called in U.S. diplomats to protest the strikes.

The United States has said in the past that Pakistan was not doing enough to eliminate terrorists living in the border areas.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Saturday would not comment on the Haqqani leader’s death.

“I do not have any confirmation you are talking of Badruddin Haqqani, I do not have any information,” he said.

Islamabad in the past has criticized the United Sates for not applying similar drone strikes against terrorists living in Afghanistan who attack Pakistan.

Munir, a former head of Pakistan's intelligence services, says the targeted killing of Dadullah on Friday will improve the strained relations between Pakistan and the United States.

Coalition forces said the strike in Afghanistan also killed Dadullah’s deputy, known as Shakir.

Munir says drone strikes have been an effective tool. He says they have disrupted the activities of terrorists hiding in the remote mountain areas on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

But he adds that U.S. drone strikes have killed al-Qaida and other top terrorist commanders for the past five years, and new leaders simply take over the operations.

“It is not a permanent setback, because these things have been happening. Al-Qaida leaders have been killed in north Waziristan, their commanders who were controlling operations, and then they choose another one," said Munir.

U.S. and international combat forces in Afghanistan are under pressure to eliminate the various terrorist networks operating in the region before they leave the country in two years' time.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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