Over 1,600 People Killed in Pakistan by CIA Drones in Last Two Years

A total of 2,043 Pakistanis have been killed in CIA drone strikes in the past 5 years according to a new report from the Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC). The vast majority of them innocent civilians. Over 1,600 of these were killed since Barack Obama became U.S. President at the start of 2009.

When President Bush was in office drone strikes were a comparative rarity, but they have been dramatically escalated by President Obama. They usually occur in retaliation for attacks by militant groups. CMC termed the program an “assassination campaign turning out to be a revenge campaign.”

According to the report 134 drone attacks were reported in Pakistan’s FATA region in 2010 alone. These inflicted 929 causalities. On one day alone last month (December 17) three drone attacks killed 54 people in Khyber Agency.

Regarding civilian causalities and attacks on women and children, the CMC report said: "People in the tribal belt usually carry guns and ammunition as a tradition. US drone will identify anyone carrying a gun as a militant and subsequently he will be killed."

According to Antiwar.com the enormous number of civilian deaths goes largely ignored by officials, who insist, on those rare occasions when they will even cop to the programs at all, that they are “very accurate.” The identities of the victims is rarely apparent at the time of the attacks, of course, and it seems there is very little interest in following up with them after the fact, except on the occasions when NGOs point out how many of the victims are just random tribesmen.

Drones or Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a huge advantage for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, "providing surveillance, reconnaissance, and precision strike capability to U.S. forces" according to a June 2010 article by John McHale in Military & Aerospace magazine. The article goes on to callously refer to these killing machines as "sexy and exciting".

UAVs are controlled and monitored from sophisticated ground control stations (GCSs) sometimes thousands of miles away from where the aircraft is flying. These GCSs often are located in the in or near the battlefield but are can also be controlled bases in the U.S. As McHale puts it,  "a UAV “pilot” could have breakfast with his wife and kids in the morning, head off to work and fly missions over Afghanistan, then had home for a family dinner at night." 

Shannonwatch is not aware if the "pilots" that killed the 2,043 Pakistani men, women and children sat in a GCS in Afghanistan, possibly transported there on one of the Hercules C-130's that pass through Shannon Airport, or if he/she was located close to their safe, comfortable breakfast back home in the U.S. Either way their video-game style killing has left a lot of bloodshed in Pakistan.

For details of one of the more commonly deployed drones, go to this UAV Predator page.

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