MIRAMSHAH: In a rather rare move, the Pakistan military for the first time gave the official version of US drone attacks in the tribal region and said that most of those killed were hardcore Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and a fairly large number of them were of foreign origin.
General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood said in a briefing here: “Myths and rumours about US predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners.
“Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements.”
The Military’s 7-Dvision’s official paper on the attacks till Monday said that between 2007 and 2011 about 164 predator strikes had been carried out and over 964 terrorists had been killed.
Of those killed, 793 were locals and 171 foreigners, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans.
In 2007, one missile strike left one militant dead while the year 2010 was the deadliest when the attacks had left more than 423 terrorists dead.
In 2008, 23 drone strikes killed 152 militants, 12 of them were foreigners or affiliated with Al Qaeda.
In 2009, around 20 predator strikes were carried out, killing 179 militants, including 20 foreigners, and in the following year 423 militants, including 133 foreigners, were killed in 103 strikes.
In attacks till March 7 this year, 39 militants, including five foreigners, were killed.
Maj-Gen Ghayur, who is in-charge of troops in North Waziristan, admitted that the drone attacks had negative fallout, scaring the local population and causing their migration to other places.
Gen Ghayur said the drone attacks also had social and political repercussions and law-enforcement agencies often felt the heat.
About the cross-border movement of terrorists along the Pak-Afghan border, he said: “Well we have over 820 checkposts along the border to stop militant movement and there is strict vigilance, but unfrequented routes are an exception for which alternate means, including intelligence-sharing between coalition troops and the army, are in place.”