A U.S. drone strike on Wednesday killed five suspected militants in northwest Pakistan, a government official said, as an anti-Taliban offensive by the Pakistani military grew in intensity. The deadly strike comes one day after a human rights group issued a report drawing international attention to the number of innocent lives claimed by U.S. drone strikes.
The drone strike on Wednesday targeted a house in Datta Khel near the Afghan border. Pakistani fighters in the area allegedly used the residence as a safe house.
"The Government of Pakistan condemns the drone strike that took place in the early hours of Wednesday, 26 November 2014 at Garga, north of Shawal in North Waziristan Agency," the government said in a statement.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks drone strikes using media reports, said that the United States has so far carried out 20 drone strikes in Pakistan this year.
Pakistan typically protests U.S. drone strikes carried out on its territory as a breach of sovereignty that kills innocent civilians, but analysts believe Pakistan’s military has accepted the attacks and even coordinates some with the U.S. military.
Earlier this year, the U.S. halted drone strikes in Pakistan for six months as Islamabad attempted to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban. The attempt failed and the strikes resumed days before Pakistan launched an anti-Taliban offensive in the border region of North Waziristan on June 15.
There has so far been little ground fighting in the offensive. Most of the casualties that Pakistan’s military has reported come from air raids. On Tuesday, the military said it killed 20 fighters in aerial bombing.
For it’s part, the U.S. says it only targets militants in the drone strikes, but does not release details about individual strikes.
But a report published on Tuesday by U.K.-based human rights organization Reprieve showed that the number of non-targeted individuals killed in U.S. drone strikes is extraordinarily high.
The group, which based most of its findings on U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, found that as many as 1,147 people were killed in the targeting of 41 individuals named on the U.S. “kill list.” Furthermore, each of the 41 targets appeared to have “died” on multiple occasions.
“Reports indicate that each assassination target ‘died’ on average more than three times before their actual death,” the report said.
Reprieve said that in Pakistan, 24 men were reported as being killed or targeted multiple times.
Al Jazeera and Reuters