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400 civilians killed in Afghanistan drone strikes, United Nations official says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Of the 2,200 people killed by United States-led drone strikes in Pakistan over the past 10 years, at least 400 were civilians, a United nations human rights investigator said.  An additional 200 victims were deemed "probable non-combatants," Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism has urged the U.S. to release its own data on the number of civilian casualties.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Emmerson, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry has recorded at least 330 drone strikes since 2004 in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which is Pakistan's largely lawless region bordering Afghanistan.

It must be noted that the majority - but not all, drone attacks has been by the United States. Britain and Israel have also used drones in the area. Clearing out the radical sanctuaries has long been viewed by Washington as crucial to bringing stability to Afghanistan.

Emmerson said that the Pakistani government records showed that drone strikes had killed at least 2,200 people and seriously wounded at least 600 since 2004. The nation of Pakistan has also confirmed that "at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of remotely piloted aircraft strikes and a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants.

"Officials indicated that, owing to under-reporting and obstacles to effective investigation, those figures were likely to be an underestimate" of civilian deaths, Emmerson said.

Visiting Pakistan last March, Emmerson noted that principal media monitoring organizations had recorded a "marked drop" in reported civilians casualties from drone strikes in the tribal areas during 2012 and the first half of 2013.

Dominated by ethnic Pashtun tribes, these tribal areas have never been integrated into Pakistan's administrative, economic or judicial system. These areas have sheltered and supported militants over decades of conflict in Afghanistan.

"The involvement of CIA in lethal counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan and Yemen has created an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency," Emmerson said.

"One consequence is that the United States has to date failed to reveal its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of remotely piloted aircraft in classified operations conducted in Pakistan and elsewhere."

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