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Drone Attacks Kill 11 in Pakistani Tribal Regions

A U.S. Predator drone (file photo)

A U.S. Predator drone (file photo)

Pakistani officials say air strikes by suspected U.S. drones have killed at least 11 people in a tribal region close to the Afghan border.

The first attack targeted a house in the Azam Warsak area of South Waziristan. Pakistani intelligence officials say several foreign nationals were killed in the early-morning strike.

Later Monday, officials say an unmanned aircraft fired four missiles at a house in the North Waziristan tribal region, killing at least five people.

U.S. officials rarely comment on missile strikes in Pakistani territory, which are deeply unpopular throughout Pakistan and are opposed by the government in Islamabad.

The strike in South Waziristan is the first since the arrest last month of a U.S. government employee who shot and killed two Pakistanis in the eastern city of Lahore. American officials say Raymond Davis was acting in self-defense during a robbery attempt, and that he has diplomatic immunity from arrest.

Analysts have suspected that the U.S. halted drone attacks while it was pressing authorities in Islamabad to release Davis.

Meanwhile, a U.S. news report says drone attacks in Pakistan last year conducted by the CIA are believed to have killed at least 581 militants, but only only two of those men appeared on a U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists.

Despite a major escalation in the number of unmanned strikes, The Washington Post reports that the casualty rate among high-ranking militants has "slipped or barely increased."

The newspaper says results of the missile strikes have raised questions about "the purpose and parameters" of last year's 118 drone attacks, each of which cost more than $1 million.

The Washington Post reports Pakistan "secretly authorized" the drone attacks for years, but authorities in Islamabad have now asked the Obama administration to put "new restraints" into place on the use of deadly force by unmanned aircraft. One Pakistani official reportedly said that to an increasing extent, U.S. rockets are killing "mere foot soldiers" among the insurgents.

The newspaper reports Pakistan has implored the U.S. "to find better targets" and "be a little less gung-ho (zealous)."

Peter Bergen, an expert on terrorism at the New America Foundation, is quoted as saying that 94 percent of those killed by drone attacks have been lower-level militants. He contends such "targeted killings" should be aimed at terrorist leaders, and there should be no "blanket dispensation" for drone attacks in less specific circumstances.