Despite Ongoing Protest, Obama Resumes Drone Attacks in Pakistan

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by
Common Dreams

Despite Ongoing Protest, Obama Resumes Drone Attacks in Pakistan

Bombing on Wednesday kills unconfirmed number of people, as 'destablizing' US program continues

by
Jon Queally, staff writer

Despite repeated and recent warnings that such attacks are destabilizing and an affront to its territorial sovereignty, reports indicate the US military executed a pair of drone missile strikes in Pakistan on Wednesday in what appears to be an attempt to assassinate a high-level Taliban commander.

It remains unclear whether or not Wali-ur-Rehman—the reported target of the attack— was, in fact, killed, but reports from various media outlets suggest between four and seven fatalities resulted from the attack that occurred in the North Waziristan tribal region.

"Pakistan has consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law." - Pakistan Foreign Ministry

Citing Pakistan security officials and local Pashtun tribesmen, Reuters reports that the US drone "fired two missiles that struck a mud-built house at Chashma village, 3 km (2 miles) east of Miranshah, the region's administrative town."

Al-Jazeera reports:

A US drone strike has killed the number two of the Pakistan Taliban, Wali-ur-Rehman, in North Waziristan region, according to three Pakistani security officials.

Wali-ur-Rehman had been poised to succeed Hakimullah Mehsud as leader of the Pakistan Taliban, a senior army official based in the South Waziristan tribal region, the group's stronghold, said in December.

The Pakistani Taliban is a separate entity allied to the Afghan Taliban. Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), they have launched repeated attacks against the Pakistani military and civilians.

The witnesses told Reuters seven people were killed and four wounded. Without access to the site, officials could not confirm the number or identities of those killed or wounded.

"Tribesmen started rescue work an hour after the attack and recovered seven bodies," one resident Bashir Dawar told Reuters. "The bodies were badly damaged and beyond recognition."

The Pakistan foreign ministry responded to the attack with a repeat of earlier statements, calling the US drone strike "counter-productive."

The attacks, the statement continued, "entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law."

If confirmed, the death of Wali-ur-Rehman would be a supposed blow to the Pakistan Taliban, and the latest killing of a high-level operative which western officials and media outlets often refer to as "number two" in the al Qaeda or Taliban command structure.

Wednesday's bombing in Pakistan comes less than a week after a highly publicized speech by President Obama regarding the use of US drones and the practice of targeted killing on foreign soil.

Pakistan officials on Friday responded to Obama's policy announcements by saying he did not go far enough in his promises to "reform" the US targeted killing and drone program.

"The government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law," read a statement of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs following the speech.

Many human rights groups agreed, criticizing Obama for "not going far enough" enough in addressing key concerns regarding international law, rules of war, and the implications for innocent people caught up in a war without borders and without end.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US drone attacks targeting suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan have killed up to 3,587 people since 2004, including up to 884 civilians.

The US refuses to comment publicly about the specifics of drone attacks inside Pakistan, and does not release tallies or offer estimates about those killed or harmed.

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