ISLAMABAD - Only 10 among scores of those killed in the US drone strikes in Pakistan last year have so far been identified, a report published yesterday said.

Since 2004, the United States government has attacked thousands of targets in Northwest Pakistan using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division.

Most of these attacks are on targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border in Northwest Pakistan.

These strikes began during the administration of United States President George W Bush and increased substantially under his successor Barrack Obama.

Surveys have shown that the strikes were deeply unpopular in Pakistan, where they contributed to a negative perception of the United States. The US administration and Pakistani authorities have publicly claimed that civilian deaths from the attacks are minimal.

Leaked US documents reveal that the vast majority of people killed have not been the intended targets, with approximately 13 per cent of deaths being the intended targets, 81 per cent being other militants, and 6 per cent being civilians.

The identities of collateral victims were usually not investigated by US forces, who systematically counted each male military-age corpse as an ‘enemy killed in action’ unless there was a clear proof to the contrary, as long as the male was in a militant facility at the time.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif like his predecessors has repeatedly demanded an end to the strikes. The government also publicly condemns these attacks.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism report - collected under ‘Naming the Dead’ project - only 10 people have so far been identified among scores of those who died in the drone attacks last year. The project aims to identify those killed in CIA drone strikes on Pakistan.

Only a minority of those killed were ever identified but the number of those named in 2015 was particularly low. In total, according to the Bureau research, of the minimum 2,494 people killed by US drones since 2004, only 729 have been named. At least 1,765 victims remain nameless. In 2015, at least 60 people were killed by 13 strikes.

Missiles launched from these high-tech, unmanned aircraft have hit homes, cars, schools, shops and gatherings. Those killed by drones include high-ranking militant leaders – figures such as Abu Yahya al Libi, Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Reports said the dead also included at least 416 civilians. Some were unlucky enough to be nearby when militants were attacked. Others were killed alongside their husbands or fathers, who were believed to be militants. Still others were mistaken for terrorists by drone operators sitting thousands of miles away. The names for all 10 came from either militants’ propaganda or the US government, said the Bureau.

Of the 10 victims named two were westerners, Giovanni Lo Porto and Warren Weinstein, who were both aid workers taken hostage by Al-Qaeda when they were killed in a calamitous drone strike on January 15. Five more were from Al-Qaeda and the remaining three were part of the TTP. Of the 10, four names were provided by the US after weeks of CIA investigations, while the other six emerged from Al-Qaeda and TTP propaganda.

The identified dead in 2015, according to the Bureau, included Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto, US aid worker Warren Weinstein, Al-Qaeda leaders Ahmed Farouq, Al-Qeada leaders Adam Gadahn, Qari Ubaidullah, Mohammed Ashraf Dar, Burak Karlier, TTP leaders Talwar Shaheed, Umar Shaheed and Kharey Mehsud. Little or nothing was publicly known about the remaining 50 people. Most were described as ‘militants.’

In six of the 13 strikes in 2015, the sources labelled some if not all the people killed as ‘Uzbeks.’ In four more strikes, the dead were described by their affiliation to an armed group, such as a TTP faction under a specific commander.

The Pakistani military has been fighting militants and other non-state armed groups in Waziristan since June 2014.

Afghan officials in Kabul and the provincial capitals also identified people killed in strikes in Afghanistan. The Bureau has recorded more than 100 names from over 700 people reported killed last year in Afghanistan.

The Bureau’s tally of people killed relates to 187 US strikes in Afghanistan last year for which there were media or other open source reports. The US says it carried out 411 air and drone strikes in total.

The US will not provide individual details on each of these attacks and most of them go unreported – leaving a considerable gap in public understanding of the ongoing US war in Afghanistan.