Jack Serle writes at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism
The CIA launched four attacks [on Pakistan in September] – the second most attacks in one month so far this year. At least 16 people were killed in these attacks – none of them reportedly a civilian. This was the ninth consecutive month without a confirmed civilian casualty.
Six killed in the first strike of the month on September 6 were named (Ob322). Among them was Mullah Sangeen Zadran – an alleged commander in the Haqqani Network and reportedly the Afghan Taliban’s ‘shadow governor’ in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
Analyst Saifullah Mahsud said the US had ‘scored really big’ by killing Zadran. Though he was second-in-command to Haqqani patriarch Sirajuddin Haqqani, he ‘was running the show, practically’.
The final two strikes came less than 24 hours apart. The first, on September 29, hit two days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the UN General Assembly drone strikes violate his country’s borders. He added that the civilian casualties from the strikes are ‘detrimental to our resolve and efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism from Pakistan’.
The leading political parties demonstrated that resolve on September 9 by endorsing Sharif’s plan to start peace talks with the Pakistan Taliban, the TTP. But a series of bloody attacks in the following weeks may threaten that unanimity. A week after the announcement Major General Sanaullah Khan, Pakistan Army commander in Swat, was killed by a roadside bomb. The TTP claimed responsibility.
On September 22 an horrific suicide bombing killed more than 80 people. They were worshiping in a church in Peshawar when two bombers detonated inside the building. An armed group, Jundallah, claimed the attack as revenge for US drone strikes. The TTP, an alliance of armed groups, disowned the attack three days later. It declared Jundallah was not a member group.
The church attack was a significant blow to Sharif’s hopes for talks with the Taliban. According to US news wire McClatchy, Sharif said: ‘We had proposed peace talks with the Taliban in good faith but . . . because of this attack, the government is unable to move forward with what it planned and envisaged.’
On September 27 an Ansarul Mujahideen attack killed as many as 20 people on a bus in Peshawar. The group emerged earlier this year with the stated aim of avenging civilians killed in drone strikes, The News reported. And Peshawar was hit for a third time on September 29 when a TTP car bomb detonated in one of the city’s markets. The blast killed as many as 42 men women and children, 17 reportedly from one family.
Total CIA strikes in September: 4
Total killed in strikes in September: 16-24, of whom 0 were reportedly civilians
Mirrored from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism