Tuesday Jan 08, 201309:41 PM GMT
US drone strikes increase with start of New Year
Tue Jan 8, 2013 9:40PM
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The sixth U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2013 has killed at least eight people, leaving at least 35 people dead in the first eight days of this year.


About 19 miles east of Mirin Shah, the main city in the tribal province of North Waziristan, at least one missile fired by a U.S. Predator or Reaper hit a compound Monday night, killing an alleged, unnamed “foreign tactical trainer” for al-Qaeda, according to Pakistani intelligence sources talking to Reuters. Another strike hit the nearby village of Eissu Khel, the Long War Journal reports. In addition to the alleged al-Qaeda member, at least seven others were killed and three more were injured.


While the statistical sample is small, it’s starting to sound like the drone campaign over Pakistan is ticking back up after a recent decline. A trio of drone-fired missile strikes between Wednesday and Thursday killed an alleged Pakistani Taliban commander and at least 19 others. Another on Sunday reportedly killed another 17 people, bringing the estimated death toll in this young year to 35.


The U.S. launched 43 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2012, according to the tally kept by the New America Foundation, reflecting a two-year downward trend from 2010′s high of 122 strikes. The average time in between strikes last year was 7.7 days. But eight days into 2013, there have already been six deadly drone strikes, for reasons that remain unclear. It’s worth noting that senior Obama administration officials recently reversed their earlier rhetoric that the U.S. was on the verge of defeating al-Qaeda and have returned to describing a protracted shadow campaign.


Obama has provided the CIA with authority to kill not only suspected militants, but unknown individuals it believes follow a pattern of militant activity, in what it terms “signature strikes.”


The drone program has killed an undisclosed number of civilians. A recent study conducted by Center for Civilians in Conflict and Columbia Law School’s human-rights branch explored how they’ve torn the broader social fabric in tribal Pakistan, creating paranoia that neighbors are informing on each other and traumatizing those who live under the buzz of Predator and Reaper engines. Those traumas are raising alarm bells from some of the U.S.’ most experienced counterterrorists. Wired


The Obama administration has aggressively employed a fleet of drone aircraft to kill what Washington considers “suspected militants” in other countries, namely Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan.


In Pakistan, U.S. drone strikes have killed more than 2,800 civilians since 2004, according to Pakistani sources.


In Afghanistan, the U.S. has carried out more drone strikes in 2012 than it has during its eight-year-long air war in Pakistan, launching nearly 450 strikes and killing thousands while also reducing its air surveillance, according to RT.


Figures compiled by a Washington think tank show a drastic increase in the number of secret U.S. drone attacks in Yemen. Based on its compilation of reports in international media, the New America Foundation reported that U.S. drone strikes in Yemen rose from 18 in 2011 to 53 in 2012.


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