US, Pakistan Underreport Civilian Deaths in Drone War

Report Shows Major Civilian Toll

Of those killed in US drone strikes against North Waziristan, how many are civilians? It is a question without an answer, but a new report by a Pakistani NGO suggests that the answer is “most of them.”

The report revealed that among the 84 people killed in November’s US drone strikes the vast majority were local tribesmen with no apparent militant ties. Even among the apparent militants killed, there were no high profile killings reported.

This stands in start contrast to the media coverage of the attacks, which usually begins and ends with a statement by unnamed Pakistani officials terming everyone killed a “suspected terrorist.” The suspicion, however, seems based exclusively on the fact that they got hit with a drone, and the group claims that the US and Pakistan are deliberately trying to keep reports of civilian deaths out of the public eye.

The US killed some 700 civilians in the drone strikes in 2009, and the limited evidence suggests that they haven’t gotten any more accurate in 2010, meaning the toll is likely at least as high.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of