Four civilians reported killed in latest CIA drone strike

Chromite deposits in Pakistan

A CIA drone strike in North Waziristan on Sunday is reported to have killed four local chromite miners – the first claims of civilian deaths in the ongoing US campaign since August 22.

Initial reports said that up to six alleged militants were killed when a vehicle was struck at around noon on Sunday. A nearby house was also damaged in the attack by up to four US Reaper drones.  But concern soon emerged that those killed were in fact civilians, with the Nation describing the deceased as ‘peaceful tribesmen.’

On Monday leading Pakistan newspaper the News reported that those killed were not militants, but in fact workers from a local chromite mine. It named one of the dead as Saeedur Rahman, a chromite dealer.

Chromite ore is a valuable mineral used in a number of industrial processes. In March 2011 a CIA strike killed between 19 and 42 civilians when drones attacked a tribal meeting called to resolve a dispute over a nearby chromite mine. The CIA declined to comment on Sunday’s attack.

Many killed
Sunday’s drone attack was one of eight recorded by the Bureau in Pakistan during October, and brings to 390 the minimum number of civilians reported killed in the CIA’s seven-year drone campaign. The maximum reported number of civilian deaths now stands at 779.

Although the US continues to claim that it has not killed any ‘non-combatants’ in Pakistan since May 2010, the Bureau’s own data shows that between 109 and 279 civilians have been reported killed in US drone strikes between May 1 2010 and Sunday’s attack. Fourteen of those killed are reported to be children.

A further strike on Monday evening in Mir Ali killed up to four alleged militants, according to news reports.

For the Bureau’s full investigation into CIA drone strikes, click here.