In October, drone strikes increased in Pakistan. The US is the only country in the region known to possess drones, however officials do not usually comment on suspected drone attacks. NATO convoys into Afghanistan were halted after officials named NATO helicopters as responsible for the deaths of three Pakistani soldiers. An official in the Pakistani government commented, “We were asked by our seniors to block these supplies until further orders and we can’t allow it to go until we receive orders from our seniors.” NATO defended itself by saying that their entrance into Pakistani airspace was in self-defense and that those killed were armed and firing at the helicopters. Drone strikes have increased in Pakistan lately as a response to resistance movements moving across the Afghan/Pakistan border.
The US launched 44 drone strikes into Pakistan in 2009. Reports say US strikes have killed 700 civilians and only 5 confirmed kills on leaders with ties to Al-Queda (1). “On June 22, the US struck at a house officials called a “suspected militant hideout,” burying a few locals inside. When others rushed to the scene to rescue them, they launched another missile, killing 13 apparently innocent Pakistanis. When they held a funeral procession on June 23, the US hit that too, ostensibly on the belief that Baitullah Mehsud might be among the mourners. He wasn’t, but the attack killed at least 80 more people” (1).
A separate missile strike killed five German militants who were accused of being part of a cell of Britons and Germans plotting attacks against European cities (2). They are also accused of having links to Osama bin Laden. The German Foreign Ministry said it was investigating reports but did not comment on the “militants'” identities, although ARD, the German public broadcast station, stated that four of the Germans killed were of Turkish descent.
More recently, yesterday, drone air strikes in North Waziristan in Pakistan killed another 14 Pakistanis (3). Unmanned drones targeted a house filled with “militants” and destroyed it with two missiles; it was the third such strike in the past 24 hours (3).
“There have now been at least 20 suspected U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan this month, many of them in North Waziristan. There were 21 such attacks in September, nearly double the previous monthly record [….] Human rights groups have raised concerns of civilian casualties and questioned the legality of what they sometimes term ‘extrajudicial killings'” (3).