More than 50 people have died in the past week in a series of covert CIA drone strikes inside Pakistan.
According to analysis by the Bureau, seven recorded strikes over just six days show a return to levels last seen in mid March, prior to Osama bin Laden’s killing.
Two linked US drone strikes on the borders of North and South Waziristan on June 8 are the 217th and 218th ordered by President Obama’s administration.
Pakistani media, citing local intelligence officials, state that in the first strike, a vehicle containing five men was destroyed in Zoynarai, in the borderlands between the two Waziristans. Minutes later a second drone missile attack on a nearby ‘heavily fortified compound’ killed at least 15 more people.
Initial claims that all victims were militants cannot be confirmed, as the media is unable to operate freely in the area.
Less than 48 hours earlier, three unmanned Predator or Reaper drone strikes were recorded in Waziristan, killing at least 23. And on June 3, two strikes resulted in the apparent death of senior Al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri and at least eight others.
Kashmiri’s death was first declared on September 7 2009. US officials are reportedly waiting on DNA evidence to prove the latest claim of his death.
The Bureau has been monitoring all covert American drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere for the past year. Our analysis shows that last week was the most intense period of CIA drone bombing in Pakistan since mid-March.
The American covert campaign was heavily disrupted by the fallout from Osama bin Laden’s death, and by the capture of CIA agent Raymond Davis earlier this year.
The highest recorded level of attacks occurred in last year in October, towards the end of Pakistan’s floods crisis.
Pakistan’s parliament recently voted for an end to the US strikes, which enrage domestic public opinion.
However Prime Minister Gilani recently indicated that the drone war will continue, telling Time magazine that he could accept a policy ‘where they [CIA drones] are used under our supervision.’