Amnesty International questions US secrecy over drone strikes in Pakistan

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 16:40

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Islamabad: Presenting an in-depth report on the drone attacks launched by the US in Pakistan`s restive tribal region, the London-based Amnesty International has said that America must be held accountable for the unlawful killings, some of which also amount to `war crimes`.

The comprehensive report named “’Will I be next?’ US drone strikes in Pakistan” presents a detailed account of two major drone strikes in North Waziristan last year that killed innocent civilians that included a 68-year old grandmother and some labourers.

One of the attacks took place in the village of Ghundi Kala in October 2012, killed a sexagenarian lady named Mamana Bibi, who was the wife of a retired school principal.

She was killed by a drone while gathering vegetables in the family fields, her grandchildren told Amnesty.

Another attack on July 6, 2012 killed 18 labourers, who succumbed to a series of US drones in the remote village of Zowi Sidgi.

All the labourers with no terror link were killed in the attack, according to Amnesty, whereas the Pakistani intelligence officials identified the dead as suspected militants at that time.

The report says that the "missiles first struck a tent in which some men had gathered for an evening meal after a hard day’s work, and then struck those who came to help the injured from the first strike. Witnesses described a macabre scene of body parts and blood, panic".

Amnesty International also talks about the cases of “rescuer attacks” in which those coming to the rescue of an earlier drone attack themselves fall victim to a follow-on drone attack.

The report authored by Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher, took into account all 45 drone attacks that are known to have taken place in North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan between January 2012 and August 2013 and carried a detailed investigation into nine of the attacks, says the report.

North Waziristan, a restive tribal region in the country`s northwest, is a top target on the radar of US drones.

Raising questions over the secrecy maintained by the US in carrying the drone attacks, Mustafa Qadri said, "We cannot find any justification for these killings. There are genuine threats to the USA and its allies in the region, and drone strikes may be lawful in some circumstances. But it is hard to believe that a group of labourers, or an elderly woman surrounded by her grandchildren, were endangering anyone at all, let alone posing an imminent threat to the United States.``

Urging the US to "come clean" about the attacks, Mustafa Qadri said that the lack of transparency gives the US administration a "license to kill".

There was no comment from the US on Amnesty`s report so far.



First Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 13:45

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