The Sydney Morning Herald reports the U.S. hands over control of new drones to Pakistan. According to American officials, the “U.S. military has begun a program of armed Predator drone missions against militants in Pakistan that for the first time gives Pakistani officers significant control over routes, targets and decisions to fire weapons”.
“Under the new partnership, a separate fleet of US drones operated by the Defence Department will be free for the first time to venture beyond the Afghan border under the direction of Pakistani military officials, who are working alongside American counterparts at a command centre in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.”
The Washington Post reports Pakistani commandos target Taliban bases. Pakistan army officials claimed “they were making a concerted effort to wipe out the hideouts and supply bases of Islamist guerrilla forces, mostly located in unpopulated hilly areas, but had not begun a ‘hard-core urban fight’ to dislodge the fighters from major towns in the region.”
DAWN Media adds Fighter jets pound Taliban strongholds across Swat while “hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the punishing offensive”. People trapped in Mingora are terrified. They said the Talibann has “planted mines and were digging trenches.” One said, “Please, please, please, do not call me again, they will cut my throat and say that I was spying”. Elsewhere, the Daily Times reports the Taliban has destroyed two boys’ primary schools in Ali Masjid area of Jamrud tehsil in Khyber Agency.
Meanwhile, AFP reports Taliban attacks NATO terminal in Pakistan. The attack by dozens of Taliban fighters destroyed eight vehicles in the northwest city of Peshawar. “Around 40-50 armed militants attacked the depot before dawn. They lobbed several petrol bombs and fled,” police officer Mohammad Ehsanullah said.
The NY Times reports Pakistan says 1.3 million flee fight with Taliban. “The exodus, if it proves to be as large as the government says, would be one of the largest migrations of civilians in the region since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, when as many as 14 million people left their homes for one of the newly independent countries. The Pakistani government and relief agencies have set up a string of camps and food distribution centers in the area, but not nearly enough to accommodate all the people who need them.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian notes a Banned jihadi group is running aid programme for Swat refugees. “The Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) offers food, medical care and transport to villagers fleeing into Mardan district, where authorities are struggling to cope with an influx of more than 500,000 people. But the charity, according to experts, officials and some of its own members, is the renamed relief wing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a group the Pakistani government banned last December after the UN declared it a terrorist organisation.”
Four at Four continues with car free suburbia, stress test sham, and spying for China.