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Report: Sharp Decline in Confirmed Civilian Casualties by Drone Strikes

  • VOA News

A new report by a London-based organization says there has been a sharp decline in confirmed civilian casualties by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued its assessment in its recent annual report .

Speaking in London Tuesday, the bureau's senior reporter on drones, Alice Ross, said that in 2013, only 27 suspected drone strikes took place in Pakistan. That was the lowest number since U.S. President Barack Obama took office five years ago. Ross told reporters the number is down from a peak of 128 in 2010.

"There has been a sharp decline in civilian casualties. In order to confirm civilian casualties, we have to see it reported by several different sources," said Ross. "What happened in 2013, there were no reports of civilian casualties that were backed up by several different sources."

Pakistan's government condemns drone strikes, calling them a violation of its sovereignty. Some opposition parties in Pakistan also are outraged by the strikes and say they kill innocent civilians. But the United States says the strikes undermine terrorism by targeting militants that carry out attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, told VOA's Deewa Radio he would not comment on the report because his country's stance on drone strikes is very clear.

"This is against the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan. This is a violation of international law," said Hassan.

The report says that since 2004, Pakistan has been hit by 381 drone strikes, and between 416 and 951 civilians have been killed.