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January 3, 2011

Drones killed 59pc civilians, 41pc terrorists


January 3, 2011

LAHORE: Of the 1,184 persons killed by the American drones in 124 attacks in 2010, around 59 percent were innocent civilians while the remaining 41 percent were terrorists belonging to numerous militant groups based in the Pak-Afghan tribal belt.
According to data gathered by The News primarily from local and international news sources, 703 of those who were perished by the US drones between January 1 and December 31, 2010, were civilians, including women and children, while 481 others were commanders, fighters and activists of different militant groups. The drones hit three types of targets in the tribal belt - terrorists’ compounds, houses sheltering terrorists and vehicles carrying terrorists.
Of the 124 drone strikes, the largest number - 53 (or 43 percent of the total drone attacks) - were directed at alleged terrorists’ compounds, followed by 41 strikes (or 33 percent of the total attacks) targeting houses allegedly sheltering terrorists while the remaining 187 attacks (or 24 percent of the total strikes) were directed at vehicles which were allegedly carrying terrorists. As the velocity of the American drones has increased enormously under the Obama administration, they are now hitting their targets with precision.
As a matter of fact, despite a sharp increase in both the frequency and total number of casualties resulting from Predator strikes, civilian casualties have gone down compared with the figures of 2008 and 2009. But still, for each terrorist killed by the drones in 2010 in the Pakistani tribal areas, around two innocent civilians also had to die. Of the total 1124 persons killed in the 124 drone attacks, the largest number of people - 638 (or 54 percent of the total casualties) lost their lives when the US drones targeted alleged terrorists’ compounds. The 359 persons (or 30 percent of the total casualties) were perished when the drones targeted houses allegedly sheltering terrorists while the remaining 187 persons (or 16 percent

of the total casualties) got killed when the drones hit vehicles allegedly carrying terrorists. The majority of the drone attacks in 2010 took place in the Waziristan region administered by four powerful Taliban groups - the Mehsuds, Mullah Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Haqqanis. Since 2006, the drone strikes focused on two regions: North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
Yet, over the past two years, there has been a dramatic shift in the location of the drone strikes. In 2009, 42 percent of the Predator attacks took place in North Waziristan and 51 percent in South Waziristan.
However, 83 percent of the total drone attacks in 2010 have targeted North Waziristan. Key Pakistani Taliban commanders Mullah Nazir and Waliur Rehman are based in South Waziristan; Jalaluddin Haqqani and Sirajuddin Haqqani in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, al-Qaeda’s chief operational commander Saif Al Adal and his Pakistani right hand Ilyas Kashmiri are based in North Waziristan; the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Ameer Commander Hakeemullah Mehsud is based in Arakzai Agency; and Faqir Mohammed is based in Bajaur Agency. All these factions of militants shelter al-Qaeda and various other anti-US terrorist groups.
However, 12 such militant groups remained the prime targets of the American Predator strikes in 2010, which included the fugitive leaders of al-Qaeda, the leaders of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the commander of the Islamic Jehad Group, Uzbekistan Islamic Movement, Turkistani Islamic Party, Islamic Army of Great Britain, Haqqani Militant Network, Lashkar-e-Islami, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Zail and Brigade 313.
According to group-wise break-up of the 481 militants killed in drone attacks in 2010, 127 belonged to the Haqqani militant network, 123 belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, 38 belonged to al-Qaeda, 34 belonged to Lashkar-e-Islami, 31 belonged to Islamic Jehad Group, 27 were Afghan Taliban, 24 belonged to Turkistani, 19 belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, 18 belonged to Islamic Army of Great Britain, 17 belonged to Uzbekistan Islamic Movement, 12 belonged to Lashkar-e-Zil and 11 belonged to the Brigade 313.

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