US Predator drones fired three missiles at a compound in North Waziristan today, killing at least 10 and possibly as many as 14 “suspects.” Officials say it is unclear exactly what the nationalities of the suspects were or what militant groups they are suspected of being tied to.
As is so often the case with such strikes and official claims of suspicions, local tribal elders say that many of the people killed were civilians and that the “compound” in question was really just a house. Most of the people killed in drone strikes in 2009 turned out to be innocent civilians.
Though such attacks have become alarmingly common during the Obama Presidency, this is the first attack in roughly two weeks, an unusual and so far unexplained gap in a number of escalations of strikes which had seen multiple attacks virtually every week.
The attack comes just days after Sen. Carl Levin (D – MI) issued a public call for the administration to again escalate the number of air strikes against Pakistan’s tribal area, saying the various groups in the region “directly threaten the Afghan mission.” Since the US rarely acknowledges even launching the attacks except on the rare occasion that they kill somebody of note, it will be impossible to confirm if Sen. Levin’s comments had any effect on the decision to launch the latest attack.