Pentagon disputes report on civilian casualties in drone attacks

A new report from a team of British and Pakistani journalists released by the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism finds one US drone strike occurs every four days in Pakistan, and that the attacks have killed as many as 775 civilians, including 168 children, since 2004. The report also challenges a recent claim by President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, that no civilians have been killed in the drone attacks for nearly a year. According to the Bureau’s researchers, at least 45 civilians were killed in 10 drone attacks during the last year.

An unnamed “senior US official” told CNN an estimated 2,000 militants and 50 civilians have been killed in strikes since 2001. Since May 2010, the strikes have killed 600 militants, the official said. “In that same period of time, we can’t confirm any noncombatant casualties”” the official added.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism defended its report in a statement to CNN, calling it “the most accurate public record yet of the CIA’s drone strikes.” The Bureau’s Iain Overton said: “All of our sources are credible and transparent, and where contradictory information exists, we make that clear. It is unfortunate that instead of engaging with our work, the CIA sees fit to smear it.” (Democracy Now, Aug. 15; CNN, Aug. 12)

See our last posts on Pakistan and the drone attacks.

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