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article imagePakistani summary of drone strikes shows high civilian casualties

By Ken Hanly     Jul 28, 2013 in World
Islamabad - A secret document obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals the Pakistan government's internal assessment of the civilian casualties associated with drone strikes in the tribal regions of the country.
Several articles on the issues involved can be found here on the Bureau's website. The US has consistently claimed that only a very few non-combatants have been killed in the drone strikes. Research by the Bureau and others suggest that close to 400 civilians may have been killed during the course of the campaign.
This internal assessment shows that Pakistani officials also were aware that a significant number of civilians were killed during a three year period. The document lists 746 people killed by drone strikes and classifies at least 147 as civilians including 94 children. The confidential 12-page summary has the title Details of Attacks by NATO Forces/Predators in FATA. The document was prepared by government officials in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
The summary is based upon confidential reports from government agents in the field and outlines details of 75 strikes between 2006 and late 2009. In many cases it also provides details of the casualties.
The numbers in the report are far above those of the US administration which estimates that at most 50 to 60 non-combatants have been killed during the nine year drone campaign. John Brennan the director of the CIA has described claims to the contrary as intentional misrepresentations.
A former Political Agent for North Waziristan who was shown the report said he did not think that the casualty figures were exaggerated since the document was not intended to be seen outside the administration. The Bureau believes that the document is continually updated but the one that they received ends at Oct. 24 of 2009, several years ago now. Although the paper was never intended for public release, there are no victims named and the Bureau decided it was safe to publish the entire document.
Neither the US nor Pakistan have released much in the way of data on the campaign. However, Ben Emmerson, who is carrying out an investigation into the strikes for the UN says that Pakistani officials have now provided him with estimates of civilians killed.
The estimates received by Emmerson indicate that at least 400 civilians have been killed by drone attacks and a further 200 were probably civilians but that is not certain. McClatchy newspapers on the other hand received leaked CIA documents that show low levels of civilian casualties.
The new Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has long condemned the strikes as violating Pakistani sovereignty and killing many innocents. Although the number of attacks recently have declined they have continued since Sharif took office.
More about Pakistan, US drone strikes in Pakistan, Bureau of Investigative Journalism
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