A suspected U.S. drone strike killed at least four people Wednesday morning in the tribal North Waziristan region, according to local officials, possibly including a senior Taliban commander. It was the first known targeted strike on Pakistani soil in six weeks.
The attack, covered extensively by Pakistani news outlets, comes at a sensitive time, as Pakistan’s newly elected government prepares to take office and debate continues both here and in the United States about the CIA-operated drone program. U.S. officials declined to comment, but Pakistani intelligence and tribal officials said a U.S. drone fired two missiles into a house in Miranshah, killing at least four people and wounding four others inside.
Obama used the first part of his much-hyped counterterrorism speech last week to outline what he said was a new, restrictive policy on drone strikes. But as Fred Kaplan explained, in reality the policy itself was neither new nor restrictive. News of today’s strike is all the more sensitive because in the lead-up to the president’s policy speech the focus was on whether and how to change the practice of using drones to kill terrorist suspects in countries outside formal war zones, namely, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.