At least 11 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a restaurant in northwest Pakistan March 26. About two dozen people opposed to Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader, were in the restaurant in the Jandola district of South Waziristan. Authorities said those killed were loyal to Turkistan Bittani, a pro-government tribal leader.
Also March 26, in the adjoining region of North Waziristan, four people were killed when a suspected US drone fired two missiles into a house outside the town of Mir Ali. It was the second apparent drone attack in the area in two days. Another drone strike killed at least seven suspected militants in South Waziristan on March 25.
The raids came as the Wall Street Journal reported that Washington is planning further drone attacks in Pakistan. The drone program, which the US administration reportedly views as “a success”, is under evaluation as part of a review of the US military strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Journal said. Intelligence officials from the US and Pakistan are composing a “fresh list of terrorist targets for drone strikes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials. Adjustments could me made to “change the pace and size of the program, and make some technical refinements in an effort to hit targets faster”, the report said. Some 30 drone attacks have killed more than 300 people since August 2008.
In a related development, the New York Times, citing US, Pakistani and other security officials, reports March 26 that operatives in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency are aiding the Taliban’s campaign in southern Afghanistan. “The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders,” the newspaper said. “There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections.” (AlJazeera, NYT, March 26)