Dawn News

"Drones also targeting mourners and rescuers"

The US now has 7,000 drones operating and 12,000 more on the ground: report - Reuters (File Photo)

An investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times has revealed that the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to rescue victims or were attending funerals.

The report was published days after US President Barack Obama claimed that the drones had “not caused a huge number of civilian casualties” in Pakistan.

However, according to research by the Bureau, it was stated that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. The report claims that: “A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.”

The first confirmed attack on rescuers took place in North Waziristan on May 16, 2009. According to Mushtaq Yusufzai, a local journalist, Taliban militants had gathered in the village of Khaisor and at least 29 people died in total.

The Bureau reports that along with Taliban militants, locals said that six ordinary villagers also died that day. They were identified by Bureau field researchers as Sabir, Ikram, Mohib, Zahid, Mashal and Syed Noor.

Interestingly, the reports also reveal that often when the US attacks militants in Pakistan, the Taliban seal off the site to retrieve the dead. However, “an examination of thousands of credible reports relating to CIA drone strikes also shows frequent references to civilian rescuers. Mosques often exhort villagers to come forward and help, for example – particularly following attacks that mistakenly kill civilians.”

Quoting Christof Heyns, a South African law professor who is United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra- judicial Executions, the report states that “Allegations of repeat strikes coming back after half an hour when medical personnel are on the ground are very worrying. To target civilians would be crimes of war.” Heyns is calling for an investigation into the Bureau’s findings.

The Bureau’s report also states that according to Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Initiative at the Brookings Institution, the US now has 7,000 drones operating and 12,000 more on the ground.

Aside from Pakistan, there is also debate over the use of drones in Yemen, Somalia and Libya. The Bureau’s report in the Sunday Times claims that three US citizens were also killed by missiles fired from drones in Yemen last September.


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Comments (8) Closed



Usman
Feb 05, 2012 07:52pm
I think pakistan and U.s government should think about the causes,effects and consequences of drones attack on the civilians. If they are killing innocence people and children who are not being the part of any terrorist activities. what are they trying to achieve?. I think C.I.A threatening the civilians by drones. As a result they are increasing terrorism and extremism.Because the persons of assassinated families outraged.It make them furious and unite them to take revenge against the authorities. The drones result or less and it's consequences are greater. At the end ,these people join the militants and become the part of their movement.In my opinion drones attack should be stopped and banned.
David
Feb 05, 2012 11:13pm
The follow up drone strikes on the terrorist locations are to kill their cohorts who come to remove the bodies and then lie to underestimate their damages and/or arrange the photos and prononcements for their propaganda purposes. Remember the commander who authorizes the follow up strikes is watching and seeing who is gathering at the spot. He can see people clearly, identify them and profile them accurately as to who they are befroe he allows a follow up strike. They are not conducted on a hunch or a whim. No folllow up strikes are intentionally made to kill civilians. It is just sheer nonsense.
Yawar Shah
Feb 06, 2012 08:28pm
David is right that civilians are not killed intentially, but the majority of those killed are civilians. So to avoid US violating another country's soverignity and killing innocent people, Pakistan had asked that Predator drones be given to Pakistan which would then be responsible for actions in it's own country. Why is the US dithering on this request, when Pakistan is a partner in the global war on terror and has suffered more than any other country.
Zach
Feb 07, 2012 02:07am
well put David
HM, Canada
Feb 07, 2012 02:39am
Read this .... "Quoting Christof Heyns, a South African law professor who is United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra- judicial Executions, the report states that “Allegations of repeat strikes coming back after half an hour when medical personnel are on the ground are very worrying. To target civilians would be crimes of war.” Heyns is calling for an investigation into the Bureau’s findings." US is killing civilians, children and medical personnel too. US can be tried in Hague.
Ahmad
Feb 07, 2012 05:17am
Yes David you are correct and everyone else is either wrong or is a terrorist.
SM
Feb 07, 2012 01:06pm
..and still you wonder what makes people ready to blow themselves up.
DV
Feb 07, 2012 04:07pm
“Allegations of repeat strikes coming back after half an hour when medical personnel are on the ground" At least medical services are so well managed in that part, I wonder if India can ever improve medical response time to 30 Minutes.