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Drone strikes kill 28 unknown people for every intended target: report

Updated November 26, 2014

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This picture shows an unmanned US Predator drone flying over Kandahar Air Field, in southern Afghanistan. — AP/File
This picture shows an unmanned US Predator drone flying over Kandahar Air Field, in southern Afghanistan. — AP/File

A report released by human rights charity Reprieve has found that US drone strikes on average kill 28 unknown people for every intended target.

In Yemen and Pakistan, the drone strikes have killed at least 1,147 unknown people in attempts to kill 41 named individuals, the report said.

The report takes into account the 2002-2014 timeline of drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, also identifying 41 men who appeared to have been killed multiple times.

This draws questions to President Obama administration's claims of dubbing the drone programme as ‘precise’, the report said.

In a press statement published on its website, the Reprieve termed its assessment as the first to provide an estimate of the number of people — including children in some cases — killed each time the US attempts to assassinate a ‘high value target’.

The complete 16-page Reprieve report on US drone programme could be viewed here.

Key findings

According to the report, 24 men in Pakistan were reported as killed or tagetted multiple times, adding that missing strikes on these men killed 874 other people, including 142 children.

Citing a particular case of targetting Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, the report alleged that CIA failed twice and killed 76 children and 29 adults. However, Zawahiri remains reportedly alive.

It took the US six attempts to kill Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) top-gun, Qari Hussain, the report said, adding that during these attempts, 128 people including 13 children were killed.

Each assassination target on the US government's ‘Kill List’ — a covert US programme that selects individual targets for assassination — died on average more than three times before their actual death, the report concludes.

“These ‘high value targets’ appear to be doing the impossible — dying not once, not twice, but as many as six times. At the same time, hundreds of unknown men, women and children are also caught in the crosshairs.

“President Obama continues to insist drone strikes are ‘precise’, but when targeting one person instead kills as many as 128 others, there’s only one conclusion that can be drawn — there’s nothing targetted about the US drone programme,” says Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at Reprieve.

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