US Drone Attacks on Pakistan: Smaller Missiles, More Strikes

by Jason Ditz

At least six more people were killed today and several wounded in the latest US drone attack against Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency. The attack brought the 2010 total from US attacks to 274 killed in 41 attacks.
The attack was the latest in what analysts say is a strategy of using smaller missiles, aimed at reducing the massive number of civilians killed in 2009’s drone attacks.
Indeed, the death toll per attack does seem to be dropping, with the 44 attacks in 2009 killing over 700 civilians, but the number of attacks has also risen precipitously, leaving in question what has actually been accomplished.
Moreover, while the smaller missiles seem to be reducing the number of incidental killings, the question of exactly who the CIA is targeting with the drones remains. Depending on dubious intelligence from tribesmen in the area, many of the drone attacks haven’t killed any confirmed militants at all, and the perception is that in many cases the attacks are being called in by tribes against their rivals. Given this, it is unclear that the percentage of civilians being killed in these attacks (a significant majority) is actually going down.
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