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Latest US Drone Attack in Pakistan Another Possible War Crime | Kevin Gosztola

In relation to the previous post:

Triple drone attacks in Pakistan reportedly killed more than twelve people who were suspected of being “militants” or terror suspects. Nine were killed in an initial attack on a “militant compound” in Miranshah in North Waziristan. Three more were killed in a second attack while people were trying to “recover dead bodies.” A third strike killed at least one more, according to the Agence France Presse news agency.

[One] of the attacks bears the hallmark of a Central Intelligence Agency tactic that Christof Heyns, a UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, recently condemned. The second drone strike appears to have been against “rescuers,” who were showing up to help those injured in the “initial” drone attack. This, according to Heyns, is a “war crime.”

The Pakistan-based Dawn.com provides a detailed account of the attacks (though the media organizations reports only a double attack occurred):

According to sources, six missiles hit the fortress-like residence of tribesman Muhammad in Zoi Nari locality of tehsil Dattakhel at around 8:45pm.

Local people rushed to the site of the attack and started rescue work while drones continued to hover over the area. They retrieved 17 bodies and two injured persons from the rubble of the house.

At about 10:30pm, the drones fired another two missiles on the compound, some 35km from the agency’s headquarters of Miramshah, when tribesmen were still carrying out rescue work. Three people died and two others were injured in the attack.

Local tribesmen feared the number of the people killed or injured might go up because they had to stop work due to the hovering drones. They said most of the bodies retrieved were mutilated beyond recognition.

In February, the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), published analysis showing how the CIA utilizes this tactic. The investigation TBIJ conducted found “at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims.” Over 20 of those killed were attacked in “deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”

The executions of people who show up in the aftermath of initial attacks to rescue dead bodies undermine the Obama administration’s claims that drone strikes are extremely precise. How can the administration, which makes premeditated decisions by committee on who to kill and not kill, know who is going to show up to clean up in the aftermath? No member of the administration knows. Most likely, the people who are victims of secondary strikes are seen as justifiable targets because of President Barack Obama’s criteria that all military-age males in a strike target area are “militants.”

Outside of the war crime that appears to have been committed in this instance, there’s the issue over casualty numbers. The majority of Pakistani news outlets are reporting twenty-one were killed. The Pakistan-based Dawn Media Group reports twenty were killed. Dawn.com reported twenty killed. The Guardian‘s latest report on the strikes puts the number of people killed at nineteen. The New York Times‘ report puts the figure at fifteen. Initial reports suggested twelve had died. TheAFP‘s report indicates, when the deaths from all three strikes are added up, that thirteen people died. This means eight deaths are disputed.