PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN – As drone-fired missiles drop with furious frequency in the tribal area of North Waziristan, so do the bodies.
As often as seven times a week, tribesmen there say, corpses appear in fields and on roadsides with dark warnings pinned to their tunics: All American spies will meet the same fate.
Espionage has long been viewed as an egregious offense in the lawless borderland, but residents say the current pace of assassinations is unprecedented. The escalation parallels a massive surge in CIA drone attacks on North Waziristan, home to a nest of insurgents that includes al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, an Afghan militia considered the most lethal foe of U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
CIA drones have fired 112 missiles on Pakistan’s tribal areas this year, 88 percent of which hit North Waziristan, in a campaign whose effectiveness is hotly debated. But tribesmen say the U.S. campaign has had far-reaching consequences for the way of life in North Waziristan and provoked cycles of violence that, once in motion, are difficult to predict and impossible to control.