ISLAMABAD: The number of drone strikes carried out in Pakistan by the United States dropped by more than 32 per cent in 2014 as compared with the previous year, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Pakistan Security Report 2014. A total of 21 strikes were reported last year, killing an estimated 144 and wounding 29 over a period of six months.
The report states that a number of senior al Qaeda commanders were killed in these attacks, including Sheikh Imran Ali Siddiqi, Taj al Makki, Dr Sarbaland alias Abu Khalid, Major Adil Abdul Qudoos, Omar Farooq, Abu Rehman al Kuwait and Fayez Awda Al Khalidi. Other key targets included militants belonging to the Punjabi Taliban, the Haqqani network and foreign militants including Uzbeks and Arabs engaged in militant activities in the country. Nineteen of these attacks took place in North Waziristan, the report states, with strikes in Miramshah, Datta Khel and Shawal districts of the tribal belt.
According to the report, the first strike of 2014 in North Waziristan was carried out on July 16, killing 20 suspected militants in a compound in the Zwe Saidgai area of North Waziristan Agency. This was the deadliest strike during 2014. A subsequent drone strike on July 19 in Datta Khel area killed 15 suspected militants, most of whom were reported to be Punjabi Taliban members.
Meanwhile, six suspected militants, including four Uzbek nationals and two members of the Haqqani network, were killed in a strike in Datta Khel on August 16. On September 24, 10 suspected militants were killed when four missiles were fired on a hideout in the Lowara Mandi area of Datta Khel. A vehicle carrying arms and ammunition was also targeted in this strike.
On September 28, three suspected militants were killed in a strike in Wana, South Waziristan, while four were killed on October 6 in the Shawal area of North Waziristan.
On October 8, two missiles were fired from a drone, targeting a house in Kond Ghar in North Waziristan, killing four militants and injuring eight others. On the same day, three militants were killed when missiles hit a house in Datta Khel.
On October 9, four suspected militants were killed and two wounded in a drone strike in Datta Khel. The next attack was conducted in the northwestern area of Shawal along the Afghan border on October 11 and killed at least four militants including Sheikh Imran Ali Siddiqi, a senior commander of al Qaeda’s sub-continent branch.
On October 30, a drone fired two missiles at the house of a local tribesman, Ashraf Wazir near a public school in the village of Nargasi in Azam Warsak, near the Afghan border. Four foreign militants were reportedly among a total of six casualties.
On November 11, a drone fired four missiles at a double-cabin pick-up truck passing through the Sandu Khula village of Datta Khel sub-division near the Afghan border. Subsequently, on November 20, six suspected militants were killed in a strike on Miranmshah, North Waziristan Agency. Three others also sustained injuries in a drone attack on a house in the Madakhel village of North Waziristan tribal region. On November 26 nine suspected militants were killed and two others injured in a strike in the Shawal area of North Waziristan.
On December 7, senior al Qaeda commander Omar Farooq was reportedly among six militants killed when two missiles were fired at a compound in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, near the Afghan border. On December 20, two missiles fired on a compound in Zyare in the Kazha Madakhel area in Datta Khel left three Uzbeks, one Arab and two locals belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) dead. On December 26, Punjabi Taliban commander Qari Imran was targeted in a strike in the Shawal area of North Waziristan. Four militants were killed in this strike. On the same day, a drone fired two missiles on a compound in the Mangroti area of Shawal, leaving three suspected militants of Uzbek origin dead.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2015.