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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Obama Okayed recent drone strikes in NSC meeting

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has launched the opening salvos of a new, more aggressive approach toward an Afghan insurgent group it asserts is supported by Pakistan’s government, senior administration officials said and a US newspaper Washington Post reported.

The decision to strike Miran Shah was made at a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Obama two weeks ago and was intended to “send a signal” that the United States would no longer tolerate a safe haven for the most lethal enemy of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, or Pakistan’s backing for it, said one of several U.S. officials who spoke about internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

A CIA drone strike Thursday killed three members of the Haqqani network, including a senior official, and additional strikes Friday left four insurgents dead. The attacks in Pakistan were carried out near Haqqani headquarters in the North Waziristan capital of Miran Shah, a city rarely targeted in the past because of the difficulty of finding well-concealed insurgent leaders and the possibility of civilian deaths in an urban area.

Early Saturday, drone-fired U.S. missiles hit a compound in neighboring South Waziristan, killing at least three militants, the Associated Press reported. Pakistani intelligence officials said the militants belonged to a group led by Maulvi Nazir, who is accused of working with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to direct cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

The strikes were made possible by focusing intelligence collection to “allow us to pursue certain priorities,” the official said. The senior Haqqani figure, Janbaz Zadran, was selected along with other targets to “demonstrate how seriously we take the Miran Shah” threat.(

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