KARACHI: The CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan, which is aimed to drive out militants who infiltrate the country through the restive Afghan border, have reportedly been targeting civilians involved in rescuing the victims or were attending funerals.
According to an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times, the drone not only targeted the militants but also the civilians who had gone to help the victims targeted by the drones.
Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan acknowledged “tactical advantages” to US drone strikes on the Taliban and al Qaeda, but appeared to shrug off the unexpected confirmation by Washington of attacks on its soil.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Basit had said that drone strikes are “unlawful, counterproductive and hence unacceptable.”
The remarks from Pakistan’s foreign ministry came as President Barack Obama confirmed for the first time that drone aircraft had targeted militants in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border.
Contrary to Obama’s claim that the drone strikes were “focused and targeted” and has not cost a huge number of civilians deaths, the research by the Bureau revealed that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 have been reported dead. The casualties include over 60 children.
The investigation cited eye witness reports and evidence that drone strikes killed at least 50 civilians who had gone to help victims, whereas, over 20 civilian deaths were reported in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.
The drone strikes were initiated under the administration of former US president George W Bush; however, they have been intensified under Obama.
There have been 260 drone attacks so far by unmanned drones – Predators or Reapers – which on an average count as one every four days. The information about the attacks carried out by CIA is kept confidential.
The CIA operates a covert drone programme which targets suspected militants in countries like Pakistan.
The drones conduct intelligence and reconnaissance missions and fire missiles at the enemy.
US officials have described drones as a very effective tool for eliminating high-value enemies in northwest Pakistan, where human intelligence is hard to come by because anyone who provides it risks the wrath of militants.