4 March 2010
One in Three Killed by US Drones in Pakistan Is a Civilian, Report Claims

One in three "militants" killed in US Predator Drone attacks in Pakistan's remote tribal areas is in fact a civilian, according to a report by an American think tank.
by Dean Nelson

The Daily Telegraph


The report, by the Washington-based New America Foundation, will fuel growing
criticism of the use of unmanned drones in the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban
militants, who use Pakistan as a base for attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan.
Critics say their use not only takes innocent lives, but amounts to unlawful
extra-judicial killing of militants.

The report by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann found that 32 per cent of those
killed in drone attacks since 2004 were civilians.

Their report, The Year of the Drone, studied 114 drone raids in which more than 1200
people were killed. Of those, between 549 and 849 were reliably reported to be
militant fighters, while the rest were civilians.

"The true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is
approximately 32 per cent," the foundation reported.

The number of drone attacks has increased dramatically since Barack Obama replaced George W Bush as US president early last year.

There were 45 drone attacks during Mr Bush's two terms of government, compared with 51 during the first year of Mr Obama's new administration. In the first two months
of this year, up to 140 "militants" have been killed.

Despite the controversy surrounding the scale of civilian deaths, and public
opposition from Pakistan's government, the Obama administration has increased its
reliance on drones to target "high-value" Taliban and al-Qaeda figures.

Since last autumn, they have killed the Taliban's notorious leader Baitullah Mehsud
in South Waziristan, and more recently, it is claimed, his successor Hakimullah

In 2008, Pakistani intelligence sources said they had killed Rashid Rauf, the
British al-Qaeda militant behind the 2006 transatlantic airliner bomb plot.

Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al Zawahiri is believed to had a lucky escape when a drone struck a compound he had recently left.

Taliban leaders this week confirmed another of their top leaders Mohammed Qari Zafar had been killed in north Waziristan.

He was believed to have organised the 2006 bombing of the American embassy in Karachi.

The report said although civilian casualty figures are high, they did not believe
their study would cause American commanders to reconsider their use.

"Despite the controversy drone strikes are likely to remain a critical tool for the
United States to disrupt Al Qaeda and Taliban operations and leadership structures,"
it concluded.

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