Tuesday: CIA Increasing Drone Attacks in Pakistan; N. Korea’s Kim Promotes Son

BY Tom LeGro  September 28, 2010 at 10:30 AM EDT

The C.I.A. has drastically increased bombing in the mountains of Pakistan as part of an effort to cripple the Taliban, lower U.S. casualties in Afghanistan and foil a suspected terrorist plot against European targets, according to reports by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

According to the Times, the C.I.A. has launched 20 attacks with armed drone aircraft in September — the most ever in a single month and more than twice the number in a typical month.

Citing American officials, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt also report that Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has issued warnings to top Pakistani commanders that the United States could launch unilateral ground operations in the tribal areas should Pakistan refuse to dismantle the militant networks in North Waziristan.

Meantime, the Journal reports that officials have been tracking for weeks an alleged terror plot targeting multiple countries, including Britain, France and Germany. “The strikes, launched from unmanned drone aircraft, represent a rare use of the CIA’s drone campaign to preempt a possible attack on the West,” Siobhan Gorman writes.

And in eastern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed a deputy provincial governor and five others Tuesday. The attack drew an emotional response from President Hamid Karzai, who condemned the killing at an event in Kabul. Karzai became tearful as he spoke of the violence in the country.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has this report and footage of Karzai’s emotional speech:

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il Promotes Son

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il made his youngest son a four-star general Tuesday in a promotion seen as confirmation that he is in line to become the country’s next ruler.
Kim, 68, who is apparently in poor health, had been expected to grant son Kim Jong Un and other family members top posts in plans to take the communist dynasty into a third generation.

The BBC profiles man of mystery Kim Jong Un, for whom there “have already been poems and a song, ‘Footsteps,’ composed, to promote the young man’s virtues as a leader.”

The Economist analyzes the announcement:

“It is notable that Kim Jong Un was given a military title rather than a party position. There has been much speculation of late to the effect that the conference would mark a move away from the ‘military-first’ stance that has marked the Kim Jong Il regime. The fact that he made his son a general however would suggest that he still considers the army to be the primary font of power in this unpredictable nation.”

Hundreds Feared Dead in Mexican Landslide

From the Associated Press: “A Mexican governor says a hillside has collapsed on more than 100 homes in a rural community and hundreds of people are feared dead. Gov. Ulises Ruiz tells the Televisa television network that Tuesday’s landslide hit the town Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec. He says rescuers are having a hard time reaching the area.”