NAT SEC

383 U.S. Drone Strikes In Pakistan Have Killed Thousands Of Civilians

Apr 23, 2015 at 1:58 PM ET

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that US drones in Pakistan had accidentally killed two western hostages, Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, and two American al-Qaeda operatives during a military operation in January.

While the strikes appeared to be the first time Americans had been killed by U.S. drones, the controversial military weapon has caused unintended deaths in hundreds of instances in Pakistan over the last decade. In several cases, the target was missed completely, while dozens of others lost their lives.

In many cases, drone strikes that target known leaders of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban will miss the target completely, while killing dozens—or in some cases hundreds—of civilians. According to the human-rights group Reprieve, drone strikes killed 1,147 people while targeting 41 specific terrorist targets. According to Reprieve, it took seven drone strikes to kill Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani militant behind the assassination of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In those seven strikes, 164 people were killed. Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to be the current leader of al-Qaeda. He was the target of two drone strikes, killing 105 people and is believed to still be alive.

In the case of Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, an Egyptian al Qaeda member who intelligence officials believed helped organize a series of London bombings in 2005, he was targeted by drone strikes three times, killing 120 people. He died of natural causes, not from drone strikes.

Between 2004 and 2015 there were 383 drone strikes in Pakistan alone, according to a database compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Civilian fatalities as a result of those drone strikes was in the thousands, according to the bureau. Below are some of the deadliest for civilians.

-On January 13, 2006, 18 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Damadola.

-On October 30, 2006, 82 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Damadola.

-On June 19, 2007, 34 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Damadola.

-On September 8, 2008, 20 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Danda Darpakhel.

-On October 3, 2008, 14 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Mohammad Khel.

-On October 31, 2008, 20 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Asori.

-On June 23, 2009, 50 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Makeen.

-On March 17, 2011, 41 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Datta Khel.

-On June 27, 2011, 20 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Mantoi.

-On June 7, 2012, 18 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Maizer.

-On July 23, 2012, 14 civilians were killed in a drone strike in Darnashta.