TBIJ uncovers civilian deaths in US drone strikes

A man holds a piece of a Hellfire rocket in his hands after five homes were destroyed by US drone strike in August 2010, killing 20 people. Photo: Noor Behram/Reprieve

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) a not-for-profit investigative journalism organisation, has uncovered compelling evidence of  civilian deaths in US drone strikes in Pakistan.  The evidence directly contradicts the recent statement by President Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser that ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral death’ in Pakistan since August 2010

As well as reviewing all available media reports, the Bureau has worked with lawyers and researchers representing civilians reportedly killed in attacks. And they have employed researchers in Waziristan to corroborate evidence relating to particular strikes.

The Bureau has examined 116 reported CIA drone strikes in Pakistan between August 23 2010 and June 29 2011.  They have found that between them, the attacks have killed at least 740 people, among them 36 named fighters from al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups. Hundreds of unnamed low-ranking fighters are also likely to be among the dead.

But civilian deaths have been credibly reported in more than one in five of the strikes.  To date, the Bureau has identified 45-56 civilian victims across 10 individual strikes – the most recent in mid-June 2011. The dead include six children.

For more details see the following stories on the  TBIJ website:

US claims of ‘no civilian deaths’ in Pakistan drone strikes is untrue

Get the data: Twenty-five deadly strikes

These reports raise serious questions about the UK’s own 170+ drone strikes in Afghanistan.  The MoD was forced to admit for the first time this month that Afghan civilians had been killed in a British drone strike.   They continue to maintain however that this was a on-off due to “intelligence failures on the ground.”

While military and counter-terrorism officials can blithely state from thousands of miles away that there are no civilian casualties, the story on the ground appears to be very different. I have no doubt that further details about civilain casualties from British drone strikes in Afghanistan will emerge.



Categories: US Drone Operations

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