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Anti-drone protest at an MLK day parade January 21, 2013, in Hawai'i. (Photo: Debra Sweet)

Blowback From US Drone Strikes on Pakistan Leaves 10 Civilians Dead

Pakistani Taliban take responsibility for attack, say it is in retaliation for drone strike last month

Andrea Germanos

Blowback from U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan has left 10 civilians, including three women and three children, dead on Saturday, victims of an hours-long assault at a Pakistani army base.

Media reports add that 13 security personnel and 12 people described as militants were also killed in the attack.

The New York Times reports:

According to initial details, Taliban militants, armed with heavy machine guns, fired rockets in the predawn assault at the base in Serai Norang in the Lakki Marwat district, setting off a heavy gun battle that lasted for several hours. [...]

During the attack, one of the suicide bombers entered a house near the camp and detonated his explosives, killing the women and children, the [Pakistani army] official said.

Pakistani Taliban took responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for a Jan. 6 U.S. drone strike that killed two Taliban commanders, and Pakistan's cooperation with such attacks.

"Pakistan has been co-operating with the U.S in its drone strikes that killed our two senior commanders, Faisal Khan and Toofani, and the attack on military camp was the revenge of their killing," a Taliban spokesman said, according to Reuters.

"This attack was to avenge the deaths of two of our commanders who had been killed in a drone attack last month," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told CNN.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks the U.S. covert war on terror, noted that the "CIA began 2013 with six drone strikes in nine days – more in any single month since August 2012.  And, with double the number of strikes in Jan. 2013 compared to Jan. 2012, "2013 could see renewed intensity in the CIA drone program."

Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sees no end to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan or elsewhere, he told Agence France-Presse in an interview on Friday.

"It's been an important part of our operations against Al-Qaeda, not just in Pakistan, but also in Yemen, in Somalia and I think it ought to continue to be a tool we ought to use where necessary," Panetta said.

"And also where we can use it in conjunction with other countries that are pursuing the same goal," he said.


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