Washington: The Pakistan Army’s stance to not to open any new front against extremists in the coming months has apparently angered the Central Investigation Agency (CIA), as it may double the use of unmanned drones to strike the extremists’ hot bed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
“By next year, the CIA is expected to more than double its fleet of the latest Reaper aircraft, bigger, faster and more heavily armed than the older Predators, to 14 from 6,” an Obama administration official said.
The Pakistan Army’s announcement, which coincided with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates’s visit to the country, has the CIA fuming, particularly after the death of seven American officials in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan’s Khost region.
Since the incident, the CIA has hit back at the militants with a vengeance killing 90 suspected extremists in 11 drone strikes, and is it believed that the American agency would heavily add to its operation.
“For the CIA, there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back,” The New York Times quoted Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, as saying.
The attack in Khost cost the agency dearly, killing its most experienced analysts of al Qaeda whose intelligence helped guide the drone attacks.
However, CIA’s spokesman Paul Gimigliano declined to comment on plans to double drone strikes, which he described as lawful and effective, but added that the US drones would continue to pound AfPak’s troubled region.
“The agency’s counter terrorism operations, lawful, aggressive, precise and effective, would continue without pause,” Gimigliano said.