Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Up to 320 Civilians Killed in Pakistan Drone War: Report

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How many civilians have been killed in the U.S. drone war in Pakistan? The number could be as high as 320 innocents, according to an analysis released today by the New America Foundation. That’s about a third of the 1,000 or so people slain in the robotic aircraft attacks since 2006.

Reliable information from the drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas is incredibly hard to come by. The government not only keeps news organizations out, it also blocks aid groups, like Doctors Without Borders. So analysts are forces to rely only press reports, which are themselves relying on second-hand accounts. The result: wildly different estimates of who has died in the attacks. In April, the News of Pakistan claimed that Predator and Reaper attacks had only killed 14 militants; the rest were bystanders. Last month, the Long War Journal estimated that about 10 percent of the casualties were civilian. The New America study, lead by long-time terrorism researcher Peter Bergen, comes down somewhere in between.

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