Intensified U.S. drone attacks cause huge casualities in NW Pakistan

15:26, April 25, 2010      

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Increasing United States drone attacks focusing on Pakistan's North Waziristan inflicted huge casualties in the tribal area in recent months.

At least 268 people have been killed in 40 drone attacks till April 24 of this year, including this Saturday attack which left nine suspected militants dead. The number is significantly higher than the first four months last year.

Another significant trend that was noted in 2010 is that the focus of the growing drone attacks against Pakistani tribal areas was shifted toward North Waziristan.

In the first 115 days this year almost all attacks focused on North Waziristan Agency in Pakistan except one that hit a target in South Waziristan area. The both Waziristans border Afghanistan.

However, in the first four months last year only three drone attacks were carried out in North Waziristan.

In the year of 2009, 22 drone attacks took place in various areas of South Waziristan, 21 attacks in North Waziristan, two in Kurram agency, one in Orakzai, and one in Bajur. All the five agencies are parts of Pakistan's tribal areas known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The growing trend of drone attacks in North Waziristan was noted after August last year. In Aug. 2009, Haqqani network, a militant group named after Jalaludin Haqqani, was targeted and after few days in another drone attack it was believed that some al-Qaeda leaders were killed in North Waziristan.

In Dec. 2009, a CIA base in Afghanistan was attacked killing six U.S. intelligence operatives who were reportedly coordinating the drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas.

The attack against the U.S. base was attributed to Haqqani network, allegedly based in North Waziristan. So the tribal agency becomes the focal point of the attacks in 2010.

After 9/11 the U.S. attacked Afghanistan ousting Taliban from Kabul and some of the militants dispersed. America believes that al-Qaida and Taliban militants are using Pakistani tribal areas for launching attacks and creating problems for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

However, the drone attacks are not without issues. Pakistan and U.S. have different point of view over the attacks, and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) also has some reservations over the attacks that cause killing of civilians as a collateral damages.

The U.S. maintains that the drone attacks are effective as several senior al-Qaeda and Pakistan Taliban leaders were killed in the strikes.

Nevertheless, Pakistan considers the attacks as violation of its sovereignty in addition to killing civilians including children and women. On several occasions Pakistani officials urged America to stop the attacks which proving counter-productive in war on terror.

On the other side, Pakistan has been seeking the drone technology from the U.S., saying it will be more effective and cause less protest among local people if Pakistan army carry out the drone strike.

But the U.S. didn't fully accept Islamabad's request and only promised to provide a dozen unarmed spy drones to Pakistan to encourage its cooperation in fighting militants on the Afghan border.

Source: Xinhua


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