US drones, conspicuously absent from the North Waziristan region for several days after militants shot one down on Sunday, returned to the region today, killing 15 people in the town in Muhammad Khel.
The drone strikes, and more importantly America’s default “no comment” position on them except on those rare occasions when they successfully kill a high profile target, have long been a sore spot for the Pakistani public, but the broad base of this opposition has only increased.
According to a Gallup poll, only 9 percent of Pakistanis support the idea of US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. There is increasing pressure for the US to be more transparent with their attacks, in hopes that it might calm the opposition to them.
President Barack Obama has dramatically increased the number of drone strikes since taking office. In 2009 the US launched 44 drone strikes in Pakistan, killing over 700 people. The vast, vast majority of those were civilians, with only a handful of meaningful militant leaders slain. Today’s attack was the 12th attack of 2010. Though the attacks killed over 100 people, only one named militant, al-Qaeda bodyguard Mahmoud Mahdi Zeidan, has been confirmed killed.