Suspected US Missile Strikes Pakistan's South Waziristan

16 October 2008

Locals in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal agency say a suspected U.S. drone aircraft has fired a missile into a local home. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that intelligence officials say four people were killed in the latest apparent attack against Taliban militants.

[insert caption here]
Suspected American drone aircraft have launched about 12 missile strikes against targets in North and South Waziristan in the past two months - a sharp increase in such operations against suspected Taliban and al Qaida militants.

The latest strike hit an area controlled by Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of a coalition of Pakistani Taliban groups.

Earlier, Taliban militants in the Swat valley attacked a police station using rockets before a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb next to the compound. The attack killed at least four security personnel.

Since August, Pakistan's military has been locked in ongoing battles against Islamic militants in areas of the rural northwest. Officials say militants have retaliated by carrying out bombings in Pakistan's cities, including last month's bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad that killed more than 50 people.

The fighting has weakened Pakistan's already shaky economy, sending the rupee to an all time low against the dollar. A continuing electricity shortage still plagues much of the country and has contributed to water shortages in some places.
Lawmakers have pledged to pursue a political consensus for a security plan to tackle the militancy, but an ongoing series of closed-door military briefings to a joint-session of parliament have drawn criticisms from many politicians.

Pakistan Muslim League - Q party Senator Khalid Ranjha tells VOA the meetings have been largely filled with platitudes.

"It is a common reaction of all the members that this is much ado about nothing," Ranjha said. "This is nothing to do with a joint session apart from good phrases, we should do better, we should fight terrorism - there is nothing to bite at."

The closed-door meetings are expected to continue for several more days. Lawmakers are officially barred from discussing the content of the proceedings.