Pakistan: Bhutto widower elected amid growing violence

Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was elected president of Pakistan Sept. 6 by a wide margin. Zardari—who spent 11 years in prison on corruption charges that remain unproved—succeeds Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month under threat of impeachment. He is expected to be sworn in next week. The day of his election, a suicide car bombing on a police post in Peshawar killed at least 30 people and injured dozens others. Elsewhere in the city, a suicide attack on a military checkpoint killed 16 people. At Tehsil Matta village in the Swat valley, 24 people were killed as residents foiled an attempted kidnapping by local militants. (IHT, Sept. 7; AP, Australian Broadcasting Co., Sept. 6)

Four children were among six killed Sept. 5 in a suspected missile attack from a US drone on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in North Waziristan. “Three missiles were fired from a drone that hit two houses. Four children, a woman and a man have been killed in the attack,” anonymous Pakistani officials asserted, saying the attack occurred at Almakath village, Gorveek district, 80 kilometers west of Miranshah. The army, however, denied that the strike was carried out in Pakistan’s territory. “There was no strike on our side of the border. The news is incorrect,” chief military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told AFP. (Daily Times, Sept. 6)

Pakistani officials said US troops flew into Jalal Khel, South Waziristan, by helicopter in a Sept. 3 raid that left up to 20 dead, mostly thought to be civilians. The White House, State Department and Pentagon all moved to clamp down on administration discussion of the assault, but government officials confirmed the broad details provided by the Pakistani government. (LAT, Sept. 5; NYT, Sept. 3)

See our last post on Pakistan.

  1. Pakistan: US drone kills 23
    From the New York Times, Sept. 9, link added:

    U.S. Attack on Taliban Kills 23 in Pakistan
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Five missiles fired from an American pilotless aircraft on Monday hit a large compound in North Waziristan belonging to one of Pakistan’s most prominent Taliban leaders, two Pakistani intelligence officials and a local resident said.

    The missile attack, about 10:20 a.m., killed 23 people, including 8 children, and wounded at least 18, according to accounts of the intelligence officials. The strike hit the compound run by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, whom the United States has accused of organizing some of the most serious recent attacks in Afghanistan against American and NATO forces and of masterminding a failed assassination attempt against the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

    It appeared that neither man was present at the compound during the attack. Among those killed were one of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s two wives, his sister, sister-in-law and eight of his grandchildren, Pakistani intelligence officials said…

    The attack was carried out less than a week after the first publicly acknowledged ground operation by American Special Operations forces against Taliban operating inside Pakistan. The commandos struck at militants in a village in South Waziristan on Wednesday at the start of what American commanders said was likely to be a more sustained campaign against the Taliban operating in Pakistan’s tribal region.

    The attack on Monday was the third American missile strike on Taliban targets in North and South Waziristan since the ground attack on Wednesday.