The latest US drone strike against North Waziristan Agency, Pakistan is amongst the deadliest in recent memory, with at least 41 people killed and other, unconfirmed sources speculating the toll may be upwards of 80.
Making matters worse, this strike isn’t coming with the usual pretense of everyone slain being a “suspected militant.” Rather, the attack struck a tribal jirga (official meeting) for the Madda Khel tribe, in the town of Datta Khel.
The casualties from the attack included six tribal elders who were overseeing the jirga, which was apparently to discuss the ownership of mineral rights, a number of children who were brought by their families to the gathering, and several members of a pro-government militia the tribe helped organize.
The US has been striking houses and vehicles in Datta Khel and elsewhere in North Waziristan for years, and such a large gathering must have seemed an appealing target. The fact that the gathering had nothing to do with militants, however, points again to just how little information they have about their targets before launching missiles at them.