A full dataset and methodology showing what the drones attacked in Pakistan.
Students gather at the site of a drone strike in Hangu, November 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Syed Shah)
The events detailed here occurred in 2014. These have been reported by US or Pakistani government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources, including on occasion Bureau researchers. Below is a summary of CIA drone strikes and casualty estimates for 2014. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.
CIA strikes – Obama 2014
|Total CIA drone strikes||7|
|Total reported killed:||51-77|
|Civilians reported killed:||0|
|Children reported killed:||0|
|Total reported injured:||14-16|
See the Pakistan drone strike database for all strikes under President Bush, 2004 to January 2009
June 11 2014
♦ 4-6 reported killed
The first drone strike in almost six months reportedly hit a house and vehicle. Early reports put the death toll at three, rising to ‘at least four‘ and as many as six people had died. ‘According to intercepts of the militants, four were Uzbek militants and two members of the Punjabi Taliban,’ a Pakistani intelligence source said.
An intelligence official said the drone targeted a pick-up truck parked against the outer wall of a housing compound, setting both on fire. But locals told NBC that the vehicle had been driving through the village when it came under attack, and the damage to buildings may have been unintended: ‘Two nearby houses were partially damaged in the missile strikes, but the target was the truck,’ said resident Yar Mohammad.
An unnamed ‘senior intelligence official‘ said intercepted communications revealed: ‘One of the militants was asking others to reach the site and search for any one injured in the strike and also to dig out the dead bodies.’
The attack came days after peace talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) conclusively collapsed with a bloody attack on Karachi Airport that reportedly killed at least 39 people, including 10 alleged militants. The TTP and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group with a heavy presence in North Waziristan, described the airport attack as a ‘joint operation‘ and said it was in retaliation to the November 2013 drone strike that killed TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, as well as to the multiple Pakistani military air strikes that have hit the region since the drone strikes stopped.
The lengthy pause in drone strikes was at the request of the Pakistani government, to allow peace talks with the TTP to take place, sources close to the negotiations told the Bureau. However terrorist attacks and retaliatory military air strikes on targets in the tribal belt continued throughout the hiatus in drone strikes. Following the attack on Karachi airport, the prospect of a full military operation in North Waziristan grew closer as defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told TV channel ARY (quoted in the Wall Street Journal): ‘The talks option has been pursued with sincerity by the government, but no result has come.’
Location: Tabi Tolkhel or Darga Mandi, North Waziristan
References: NBC News, AFP, Wall Street Journal, PTI, CNN, Associated Press, New York Times, Dawn, Express Tribune, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Centre, Reuters
- Defence Minister Asif
- Defence Minister Asif
June 12 2014
♦ 6-10 reported killed
♦ 4 reported wounded
Hours after the five-month hiatus in drone strikes ended, drones reportedly fired multiple missiles at alleged militants, reportedly killing either six or 10 people. But reports disagreed on the target of the strikes, with the Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC) and AFP reporting that the drones targeted men who were digging out bodies at the site of the previous strike – a tactic previously exposed by the Bureau.
PTI and NBC News also reported that the attack took place in the same village as the previous strike. NBC reported the strike hit a house where explosives were being stored. ‘I never heard such a huge and deafening blast,’ Miranshah resident Javed Khan said. ‘It jolted the entire tribal region, and everybody thought [the] house was targeted.’
But separate reports, also by AFP and by Xinhua, presented a different account, with locals saying missiles hit four separate houses and a pick-up truck in Dande Darpakhel, killing at least 10 and wounding four. Intelligence officials and locals described seeing five to ten drones overhead. And Associated Press said three missiles hit a house and vehicle.
According to Reuters, ‘two top government officials said Islamabad had given the Americans “express approval” for the strikes’. The unnamed officials said this and the previous strike were in retaliation for the attack on Karachi on June 9.
According to Dawn and the CMC Haji Gul, a key Haqqani network commander from Afghanistan, was allegedly killed along with prominent Afghan Taliban commanders Mufti Sofian and Abu Bakar. The attack reportedly destroyed explosive-laden vehicles, reportedly bound for missions across the Pakistani border.
Dawn and the CMC identified five more of the dead: Commander Yasin Gardezi, Abdullah Khan, Commander Jamil, Commander Asadullah and Noor Khan, their driver. The CMC named six further alleged Haqqani Network members killed in the strike: Commanders Saif el Jihad and Commander Roohullah, both Pashtun from Pakistan, Hamza Gul, Hamza, Bilal and Mehmood.
Location: Darga Mandi, Dande Darpakhel or Ghulam Khan, North Waziristan
References: AFP, BBC, PTI, AFP, Associated Press, Xinhua, NBC News, Geo TV Dawn, Dawn, Express Tribune, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Centre, Reuters
June 18 2014
♦ 4-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 reported injured
The third strike of the month killed at least five alleged militants in the early hours – around 4-4.30am. Most sources reported as many as six missiles hit a house and a vehicle on the outskirts of Miranshah – the capital of North Waziristan. Some sources reported the vehicle was inside the walls of housing compound when the strike hit while others were less specific.
However AFP reported six missiles fired by two drones hit three houses. However the agency also quoted a local security official in Miranshah as saying: ‘US drones fired six missiles which hit three separate compounds in two villages, at least five militants have been killed.’ The attacks reportedly hit minutes apart with two drones firing four missiles in the first strike and a third firing two more missiles in the second. A vehicle parked in one of the housing compounds was hit, a senior security official said.
The Wall Street Journal reported the strike targetted a Haqqani Network compound, adding: ‘A store and at least two vehicles were destroyed.’ However, a security official told Dawn the attack hit near a Haqqani Network-run seminary, killing four people although ‘we don’t know if they were fighters of the Haqqani network.’ The official added: ‘But they do not appear to be militant leaders. There aren’t too many of them left here.’ He continued: ‘What is left of the Haqqani network now is its leader Siraj Haqqani and the son of another leader killed in a drone strike.’
The Pakistan government condemned the strike which came amid Zarb e Azb – a Pakistani military offensive against terrorists in North Waziristan. Soldiers, tanks and airstrikes were reportedly being used against militant positions. Official sources said at least 187 alleged militants had been killed by June 18 as well as a handful of Pakistani soldiers. Aid agencies have estimated as many as 400,000 people may be displaced by the operation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Location: Darga Mandi, Dande Darpakhel or Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Associated Press, Voice of America, PTI, Xinhua, Wall Street Journal, The News, Khaama Press, NBC News, AFP, Dawn, PTI, Express Tribune, New York Times
July 10 2014
♦ 6-7 reported killed
♦ 2-3 reported injured
At least six people were reportedly killed when CIA drones destroyed a house and vehicle near Datta Khel. Initial reports said the attack killed four foreign fighters and two local men. Nationality, or being defined as “local” or “non-local” is the only identity ascribed to people who die nameless in drone strikes. Subsequent reports conflicted over the nationality of the dead. Some had all the dead as foreigners – three central Asians, reportedly Uzbeks, and three Afghans. However another report said four of the dead were “Arabs” and three were local men.
The Long War Journal later reported that six men killed in the attack were al Qaeda members. Three of them were named by a senior member of the organisation: Fayez Awda al Khalidi, Taj al Makki and Abu Abdurahman al Kuwaiti. Al Makki, a Saudi, and al Kuwaiti, from Kuwait, were described as “mid-level” members of al Qaeda by anonymous US sources.
A local man said the dead were buried in secret and the time and location was not announced over loudspeakers by the Taliban, which they normally when locals are killed The News reported. The local man added:
It was around 5.00am when heavy explosions were heard in the Doga Madakhel village. After the blast, the Taliban militants were seen running towards the village and surrounded the area after reaching there.
The strike came after a concerted offensive by the Pakistan military in North Waziristan. And it came the same day as the Pakistan army declared it had taken cleared militants from 80% of Miranshah – the region’s capital, 35km east of the site of this strike. The military took a group of journalists on a tour of the newly cleared areas.
According to Reuters, North Waziristan has been sealed off to reporters, ‘but the presence of many senior officers during the tour suggested that the army had secured broad control over the area’. AFP reported: ‘The once-bustling town is now virtually deserted, the rubble of countless bombed-out buildings strewn across the dusty streets.’ More than 800,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.
The attack hit in an area said to be controlled by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, ‘a Pakistani militant commander who has played a central role in mobilizing fighters to carry out attacks inside Afghanistan’ according to the New York Times. Bahadur was reportedly aligned with the Pakistan government though not to be spared from the military offensive, according to the Miranshah army commander Major General Zafarullah Khan.
In September 2014, it emerged that a Saudi al Qaeda member died in a drone strike at around this time in North Waziristan. The man was reportedly Umer Talib, also known as Adil Salih Ahmad al Qumayshi, according to the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE). In 2011 he was included on a list of Saudi Arabia’s ‘47 most wanted terrorists‘. The report from SITE suggests Talib was killed in a drone strike two months ago in North Waziristan. There are therefore three strikes – Ob336, Ob337 and Ob338 - within the time window for his death. It is not yet clear which drone strike he was killed in.
Location: Doga Mada Khel, Datta Khel Tehsil, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, AFP, BBC, Dunya News, IANS, The News, Xinhua, Geo News, Khaama Press, DPA/Reuters, Reuters, Outlook India, The News, Dawn, New York Times, Long War Journal
The Pakistan Army took journalists on tours of Miranshah which they claimed to have almost entirely cleared of militants on July 10 2014 (AFP/YouTube)
July 16 2014
♦ 15-24 people killed
♦ Possible civilian casualties reported
♦ 4-7 people reportedly injured
At least 15 people died when CIA drones hit the same area for the second time in six days. An unnamed security official said the attack targeted an important meeting.
Most reports said this attack destroyed a vehicle and a house. Resident Malik Wakil Khan told Reuters 18 bodies had been recovered from the rubble of a destroyed building. However one source, citing unnamed Datta Khel residents, reported two mosques were targeted in the attack. A local said “twelve people were killed at one place and eight others at another mosque”, without specifying they were members of an armed group.
Drones were reportedly still flying over the scene as people continued to search the rubble. The identity of the dead was not immediately clear though one source said 12 people were Uzbeks. An unnamed intelligence official told the Washington Post: “The compound was being used by foreign militants, and some local terrorists were present in the vehicle that got targeted.” Residents said 12 were Central Asians and eight were local men.
The area was reportedly under the control of Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s armed group. The pro-Taliban group had avoided being targeted by the Pakistan government after signing a peace accord in 2006 that reportedly held for eight years. However in June Gul Bahadur declared war on the Pakistan Army after the military incursion into North Waziristan began on June 15.
The strike reportedly hit at around 2am local time. A few hours later a Pakistan Air Force strike killed at least 35 people in the Shawal valley. The remote area is on the border between North and South Waziristan, as well as Afghanistan Paktika province. Pakistani military officials said militants retreating from the Pakistan Army’s month-old offensive in North Waziristan had taken refuge in the Shawal. They said this strike targetted TTP members, including Uzbeks, Chechens and Arab fighters.
The attack came the day after the Pakistan military arrested Adnan Rashid, a senior figure in the TTP. Rashid was picked up in South Waziristan having been reportedly injured fighting the Pakistan military in North Waziristan.
Location: Saidgai, Datta Khel Tehsil, North Waziristan
References: Reuters, Express Tribune, Khaama Press, Pakistan Today, National Turk, Geo, ANI, Xinhua, AFP, Dunya News, AP, ARY News, Dawn, NBC News, Washington Post, AFP, The News, New York Times, Express Tribune
July 19 2014
♦ 11-15 people killed
A drone reportedly fired multiple missiles at a building or buildings in a suburb of Datta Khel in the early hours of the morning, reportedly killing at least 11 alleged militants. Initial reports put the death toll at eight however three people recovered from wreckage with “serious burns” subsequently died of their injuries.
The drones reportedly targeted a “sprawling compound“, “two suspected militant hideouts” or a compound and two vehicles filled with explosives. And one official described the target as: “There are tents and there are mud houses, occupied by militants fleeing Miram Shah and Mir Ali.”
This is the third strike this month in the Datta Khel area - all three targeted a building and possibly vehicles. The latest attack came three days after the bloodiest strike in over a year. A tribal elder suggested US drones were attacking the area, rather than Pakistani troops, because it is in the control of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who had declared a ceasefire with the Pakistani government.
None of the dead were named and it was not clear what armed group they belonged to. The bodies were “mutilated beyond recognition”, an unnamed source said.
Several sources described most of the people killed as members of the Punjabi Taliban – locals told the New York Times 10 of the dead were from Punjab, and five others were affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Several other sources also reported a majority of Punjabis and minority of alleged IMU fighters among the dead.
However the Wall Street Journal reported some of the dead were fighters loyal to senior local commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur. And two unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials said the dead were TTP members. Two important commanders were killed in the strike, a “senior security official” told AFP. He said: “The drone fired eight missiles on the compound around 2:00am (2100 GMT) on Saturday killing eleven members of the Punjabi faction of the Pakistani Taliban.”
Location: Doga Mada Khel, Datta Khel Tehsil, North Waziristan
References: Associated Press, AFP, Reuters, New York Times, Dawn, Xinhua, Trans Asia News, ARY News, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Bureau, Xinhua, IANS, Dawn, The News, Business Recorder, The Times
August 6 2014
♦ 5-7 people killed
♦ 2-3 people reportedly injured
At least five people were reported killed and two or three more injured in a drone strike in the Datta Khel region of North Waziristan.
Most reports stated that five were killed when a drone fired two missiles at a house. However one report said six died when four missiles were fired at a house and a vehicle, and other reports counted seven killed.
Some reports said “suspected foreign militants” were among the dead, though it was not clear what armed group they belonged to. Local intelligence officials told AFP that some Uzbeks and members of the Haqqani network were among the dead. Initial reports said two alleged militants were reportedly injured though later reports counted three.
None of the dead were named in initial reports. This was the fourth drone strike to hit Datta Khel in 2014, with all four reported to have hit houses.
Pakistan military air strikes in the North Waziristan tribal region have reportedly killed 30 militants this week. In a statement the Pakistan army said that six alleged “militant hideouts” have been destroyed in the Datta Khel area, though these claims have not been independently verified.
Location: Datta Khel Tehsil, North Waziristan
References: Pakistan News Today, The Frontier Post, The News, Dawn, Dunya News TV, The Express Tribune, Reuters, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CNC News, RFE/RL, IANS, The News Tribe, ANI News, Associated Press, Geo TV, CNN, AFP
A full dataset and methodology showing what the drones attacked in Pakistan.
Read the secret report showing the government’s assessment of over 300 strikes.
Dataset: The Bureau’s database on reported CIA and JSOC air strikes and other covert actions in Yemen.