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Pakistani officials say three suspected U.S. missile strikes have hit
the country's Waziristan tribal regions since late Tuesday, reportedly
killing at least 18 militants. But such attacks may in fact hurt public
perception ahead of an anticipated Pakistani military offensive in the
The latest missile strike occurred Wednesday in the North Waziristan tribal region.
was the third strike in 24 hours allegedly by unmanned U.S. planes that
targeted suspected Taliban and al-Qaida militants along the Afghan
A similar strike late Tuesday hit an alleged Taliban compound in North Waziristan.
believe this area is a stronghold for Afghan Taliban commander
Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is blamed for attacks in Afghanistan against
the Afghan government and foreign troops.
Hours earlier, another
suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles that reportedly struck a
Pakistani Taliban commander's house in South Waziristan.
Wednesday, the British Broadcasting Corporation's Urdu-language service
received video allegedly showing the body of former Pakistani Taliban
leader Baitullah Mehsud. The video showed minor injuries to the right
side of his face and his body was covered with a white sheet.
Officials believe Mehsud died in an earlier U.S. missile strike.
and international intelligence officials say such strikes have helped
to significantly reduce the al-Qaida network's effectiveness.
But the former security chief of Pakistan's tribal regions, Mahmood Shah, tells VOA that these strikes ultimately hurt Pakistan.
elimination of certain individuals, yes it is to the advantage of
Pakistan. But destabilization, it is injurious to Pakistan," he said.
believe the Pakistani military is on the verge of launching a major
campaign in South Waziristan, following the success of its operation in
and around Swat Valley.
Shah says the United States appeared to
have no involvement in the Swat offensive. He says he believes that
played a key role in the Pakistani military's success.
had some sort of assistance from the U.S., I think the support from the
people of Pakistan would not have been there. So I think it was hugely
successful because it was through an indigenous plan, and that it was
without U.S. support," he said.
While most of the focus has been
on militancy in Pakistan's northwest, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne
Patterson, reportedly said U.S. forces are turning their gaze on the
country's southwestern province of Baluchistan. U.S. officials say
they believe fugitive Taliban leader Mohammad Omar is based around the
province's capital of Quetta.
In an interview with The
Washington Post, Patterson expressed concern about Omar and his council
of lieutenants, who reportedly plan and launch cross-border strikes
from their Pakistani safe havens.
But days earlier, senior
Pakistani military officials spoke in Quetta, denying that Omar or his
commanders where operating in the area.