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The truth about US drone strikes in Pakistan

Last updated on: March 11, 2011 08:11 IST

The truth about US drone strikes in Pakistan

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The Pakistan army has admitted that most of those killed in United States's drone strikes in north-west Pakistan were "hardcore Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists", notwithstanding the government's public posture that such attacks were causing civilian deaths.

In a rare public briefing on the attacks by pilot-less aircraft in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, the Pakistan army admitted that a fairly large number of those killed were of foreign origin including Arabs and Uzbeks.

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Image: An unarmed US 'Shadow' drone is launched in this undated photograph
Photographs: Reuters
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'Many of those being killed are hardcore elements'

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Major General Ghayur Mehmood, general officer commanding of the 7 Division, presented the Pakistan army's official version of the US drone attacks for the first time during a briefing held at Miranshah, the main town of the restive North Waziristan tribal region.

"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," Mehmood was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.


Image: Supporters of Jamat-e-Islami protest against military operations and drone attacks in tribal areas
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters
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'There are a few civilian casualties'

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"Yes, there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements," he said.

An official paper on the drone attacks conducted till Monday said over 964 terrorists had been killed in nearly 164 missile strikes carried out during 2007-2011.

Those killed included 793 local tribesmen and 171 foreigners, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans.


Image: Villagers pick up rocket fragments after a drone strike
Photographs: Reuters
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The truth about US drone strikes in Pak

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While in 2007, only a single militant was killed in the drone strike, the figures have zoomed to more than 423 terrorists in 2010, which marked the deadliest period for the predator jets.

In 2008, 23 drone strikes killed 152 militants, of whom 12 were foreigners or affiliated with the Al Qaeda.

In 2009, nearly 20 drone strikes killed 179 militants, including 20 foreigners. 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.


Image: Drone attacks have become a regular feature in North Waziristan, a hub of terrorists in Pakistan
Photographs: Reuters
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