Washington, Jan. 11 (ANI): The CIA has increased its drone strikes in Pakistan, pounding Taliban targets along the country's tribal belt, in a clear sign that the Obama administration is aiming to sweep the region clean of its militant inhabitants before the withdrawal of US forces from neighboring Afghanistan in 2014.
A strike on Thursday in North Waziristan was the seventh in 10 days, marking a major escalation in the pace of attacks, reports The Washington Post.
The strikes are seen as a way to weaken adversaries of the Afghan government before the withdrawal.
Seth Jones, a counterterrorism expert at the Rand Corp said the rapid series of CIA strikes may be a signal to militant groups that the US will still present a threat after most US forces have gone.
US officials also linked the increase to recent intelligence gains on groups blamed for lethal attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The surge in drone activity comes as key leadership positions at the CIA and in Obama's national security cabinet are in flux.
The strikes so far this year have been scattered across North and South Waziristan, semiautonomous regions targeted in the vast majority of the more than 300 strikes carried out by the CIA in Pakistan since 2004.
Pakistanis in the tribal region said they were baffled by the surge in activity. (ANI)