Last updated June 24 10:05 AM EST
On Thursday, US drones launched an attack on a compound in South Waziristan, and when locals rushed to the scene to rescue survivors, they launched more missiles at them, leaving a total of 13 dead. The timing and target of the attack were controversial, as was the tactic of luring locals in with a first strike to maximize the kill count. Today, locals were involved in a funeral procession when the US struck again.
Drones attacked what they suspected was a “militant hideout” early today, killing at least 17. When mourners gathered to offer prayers for those slain in the first attack, the drones struck again, attacking the procession itself and bringing the overall toll to at least 80, according to witnesses.
The funeral attack was reportedly aimed at Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud, though officials acknowledge that he was not killed in the salvo.
The recent attacks show a level of aggression and a willingness to target gatherings likely to contain many innocent people unseen in previous US strikes in the area. Generally speaking, most of the dozens of attacks against South Waziristan have been isolated strikes against buildings, and were not followed up with supplementary attacks on the gathering crowds.
The attacks come as the Pakistani government begins to ratchet up its own military offensive in the area. It is possible that the Pakistani military’s history of indiscriminate shelling of civilian targets and eagerness for massive kill counts is eliminating the diplomatic obstacles which have kept the deaths from the Americans’ own attacks comparatively low.