ISLAMABAD - The CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have been resumed after talks with outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended with the audacious attack on Karachi airport on June 8, a report said.
The London-based Bureau of Investigating Journalism quoting a source close to peace talks between the government and TTP said Islamabad had asked the US to stop drone strikes during the peace deal.
“All hopes of the talks succeeding ended with the TTP’s joint attack on Karachi airport on June 8; drone strikes returned days later,” the bureau said in its latest report ‘Covert Drone War’ monitoring drone strikes during six months of 2014 in Pakistan.
It said the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal area resumed on June 11 with an attack that killed at least four people, two days after TTP claimed responsibility of the five-hour siege of Karachi airport in which 34 people were killed.
“The June 11 drone attack in Pakistan’s tribal area was the first since December 25, 2013, this brought to an end the longest pause in drone strikes of Obama’s presidency,” the report said.
With three drone strikes carried out in June, the number of total drone attacks reached 386 since 2004 reportedly killing 3,743 people, 168 to 202 children while reportedly killing 416 to 957 civilians.
“June 17 marked the tenth anniversary of the first drone strike in Pakistan. In June 2004, CIA drones killed Nek Mohammad and at least five others, including two children,” the report mentioned.
It said the strikes may have been constrained by secret negotiations leading up to the May 31 release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the last US prisoner of war. He was exchanged for five members of the Afghan Taliban held in Guantanamo. Bergdahl had been held prisoner in Pakistan’s tribal areas by the Haqqani Network, members of which were the target of at least one of June’s three strikes.
This year’s three strikes so far killed 14 to 24 people, none of whom were described as civilians. This is the smallest reported death toll for a six-month period of drone strikes in Pakistan since the first half of 2006, when 13 to 22 people reportedly died.
“This month the Bureau has added 14 names to Naming the Dead project, which identifies those killed in Pakistan drone strikes, taking the number of names published to 698,” it added.
The Bureau has profiled Nek Mohammad, the local Taliban commander who was the target of the first CIA drone strike in Pakistan in 10 years ago this month.
The Bureau of Investigating Journalism said more than 450,000 people had fled their homes in North Waziristan since late May. On June 19, the Pakistan government said it would not ask aid agencies including the UN for help handling the refugee crisis.
“A week later the World Health Organisation warned the mass exodus risked increasing the spread of polio beyond the tribal belt - currently Pakistan’s worst affected area,” it added.