Data obtained from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s ‘Covert War on Terror project’ reveals how much success and collateral damage the drones have caused in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Beginning with Pakistan, there have been a total of 327 US drone attacks since 2004 – most of them during the tenure of incumbent President Barack Obama: 275 or 84.1%. Though it’s difficult to ascertain the exact number of casualties, the Bureau believes 2,464 to 3,148 people were killed and 1,181 to 1,294 wounded. Of the total fatalities, 482 to 830 were civilians, including 175 children.
Labeled “Obama 2012 Pakistan Strikes”, the Bureau report breaks down the casualties month-wise along with the precise location of each drone strikes, so far this year.
January – March 2012
Jan 4, North Waziristan: The first hoped-for US strike of 2012 did not happen, according to the Washington Post, following a veto by Pakistan. “In a rare display of deference early this month, the CIA informed the Pakistani government that it planned a drone strike against a terrorist target and asked for Islamabad’s permission. When Pakistan declined, the strike was canceled,” officials said.
Jan 10, Miramshah, North Waziristan: The longest pause of the Obama drone war in Pakistan (55 days) came to an abrupt end, when in a late evening attack two missiles destroyed a mud-brick house just outside Miramshah. Up to four alleged militants were reported killed. Reuters reported that US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General Martin Dempsey, all spoke with senior Pakistani officials prior to the attack to let them know the campaign would be resuming.
Jan 12, Datta Khel, North Waziristan: Up to nine militants, mostly Turkmeni, were killed in drone strike on two vehicles. A Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters that “the missiles hit two cars that were heading towards the Afghan border.”
Jan 23, Degan, North Waziristan: Up to four alleged Turkmeni militants were reported killed in a morning strike on a vehicle, according to Reuters. A nearby house was also damaged.
Jan 23, Mohammad Khel, North Waziristan: Two missiles may have struck a house, with The News reporting local tribesmen as saying that two people died.
Feb 1, Darand Shekhan, Orakzai Agency: There were conflicting reports as to the source of an early morning attack on four compounds of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). According to media reports, the strike was carried out by Pakistani warplanes, and that a TTP commander may have been killed. There had been speculation as to whether US drones were involved.
Feb 8, Spalga, North Waziristan: Ten alleged militants were killed in an early morning attack on a house near Miramshah. One anonymous Pakistani official reported that “the locals pulled out 9 bodies and around 12 injured from the rubble”. One source claimed that those killed were part of a group run by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a local militant commander. A second reported that the Haqqani Network may have been targeted.
Feb 9, Miramshah, North Waziristan: Badar Mansoor, the commander of a TTP faction with strong links to al Qaeda, was among at least five killed in early morning strike. Reuters cited a Taliban commander as saying that Mansoor’s family died alongside him.
Feb 16, Spalga, North Waziristan: A strike on a house in Spalga killed six alleged militants. The strike came five days after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told Al Jazeera that “drones are counter-productive and we have discussed it thoroughly with the US administration”. In a second strike of the day a pilot-less aircraft targeted a pick-up truck in Mir Ali, killing up to 15 alleged militants, mostly Uzbeks, according to reports.
March 9, Shaktoi Mandao, South Waziristan: A rare drone strike killed up to 15 alleged militants. The attack struck a vehicle in the Mandao borderlands area. According to media reports those killed were allied to the TTP and may have included foreigners. In a second strike of the day, a house was hit in Nishpa area, killing ‘six Uzbeks’, according to sources.
March 13, Drey Nishtar, South Waziristan: Two senior commanders of Maulvi Nazir Group were among up to 8 people killed in the strike on their vehicle. An eyewitness identified one of the commanders as Amir Hamza Toji Khel, described as a “prominent member of the newly established Shura Muraqiba”. Some hours later, a strike was reported on another vehicle in Shawal area on the border between South and North Waziristan agencies. According to media reports, up to seven militants, belonging to the Maulvi Nazir Group, were killed.
March 30, Miramshah, North Waziristan: A house in the market area of Miranshah was destroyed in the attack, killing four alleged militants. According to AFP, the CIA strike also triggered a fire in the moneychangers’ market. The blast reportedly destroyed five shops including a bakery, three grocery shops and a telephone kiosk. A senior unnamed US official voiced rare internal criticisms of the US programme, telling CNN that “the big mistake was the administration. I did try to warn them that once you put it on the table, it will only get worse. Sure enough, once they did, Pakistan grabbed it, and they’ve run with it and now it’s the centrepiece of their negotiations.”
April – June 2012
April 29, Miramshah, North Waziristan: Despite a unanimous vote by Pakistan’s parliament to end the drone strikes, the CIA ended a 29-day pause by bombing an ex-girls’ school killing up to six alleged militants. Pakistan strongly condemned the strike.
May 5, Shawal, North Waziristan: The drone strike hit an alleged militant training camp, killing up to 10 people. Pakistani media identified the victims as ‘local tribesmen’ while the CNN said they were TTP militants.
May 23, Datta Khel Kalai, North Waziristan: After an 18-day hiatus, up to five alleged militants were killed in a strike on a house. As many as five drones were reported over Miranshah at the time of the attack, suggesting a possible High Value Target may have been present.
May 24, Mir Ali, North Waziristan: In a second attack in 24 hours, a drone targeted a house and a nearby mosque killing up to 12 people, only some of whom appear to have been alleged militants. Between three and 10 were civilians.
May 26, Miramshah, North Waziristan: Four alleged militants died when a bakery was struck in Miramshah Bazaar. According to Associated Press, the victims – all ‘foreigners’ or ‘Arabs’ – were buying bread when the shop was bombed.
May 28, Mir Ali, North Waziristan: Up to 10 people were killed in a double bombing of a house under construction. A security official said the area “was known for harbouring Uzbek, Arab and other foreign militants.” A second missile attack of the day destroyed a vehicle, killing up to four alleged militants in the Datta Khel area.
June 2, Wana, South Waziristan: Up to four people were reported killed in a strike targeting a vehicle. Security officials told AFP that alleged militants had been moving from one area to another near the Afghan border.” It was also reported that a motorbike was accidentally hit, suggesting possible civilian casualties. In a second strike of the day targeting a house, four people were killed.
June 3, Wana, South Waziristan: An attack on funeral prayers held with the family of Taliban commander Rehmanullah Gangi Khalil killed the day before, killed up to 10 people
June 4, 2 Mir Ali, North Waziristan: The CIA continued its relentless bombing campaign, with a level of strikes not seen in Pakistan for over a year. The strikes killed up to 16 people as a ‘militant compound’ and a vehicle were struck. Up to six drones participated.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2012.