Monday, April 05, 2010

the drone wars....,

NYTimes | By all reports, the bombardment of North Waziristan, and to a lesser extent South Waziristan, has become fast and furious since a combined Taliban and Qaeda suicide attack on a C.I.A. base in Khost, in southern Afghanistan, in late December.

In the first six weeks of this year, more than a dozen strikes killed up to 90 people suspected of being militants, according to Pakistani and American accounts. There are now multiple strikes on some days, and in some weeks the strikes occur every other day, the people from North Waziristan said.

The strikes have become so ferocious, “It seems they really want to kill everyone, not just the leaders,” said the militant, who is a mid-ranking fighter associated with the insurgent network headed by Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani. By “everyone” he meant rank-and-file fighters, though civilians are being killed, too.

Tactics used just a year ago to avoid the drones could not be relied on, he said. It is, for instance, no longer feasible to sleep under the trees as a way of avoiding the drones. “We can’t lead a jungle existence for 24 hours every day,” he said.

Militants now sneak into villages two at a time to sleep, he said. Some homeowners were refusing to rent space to Arabs, who are associated with Al Qaeda, for fear of their families’ being killed by the drones, he said.

The militants have abandoned all-terrain vehicles in favor of humdrum public transportation, one of the government supporters said.

The Arabs, who have always preferred to keep at a distance from the locals, have now gone further underground, resorting to hide-outs in tunnels dug into the mountainside in the Datta Khel area adjacent to Miram Shah, he said.

“Definitely Haqqani is under a lot of pressure,” the militant said. “He has lost commanders, a brother and other family members.”

While unpopular among the Pakistani public, the drone strikes have become a weapon of choice for the Obama administration after the Pakistani Army rebuffed pleas to mount a ground offensive in North Waziristan to take on the militants who use the area to strike at American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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