Obama 2012 Pakistan strikes

President Obama visits the Pentagon, 2012 (Photo: White House)

The events detailed here occurred in 2012. 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 2012. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.

You can access a complete spreadsheet of all strike and casualty data for Pakistan here.

CIA strikes – Obama 2012
Total CIA drone strikes 50
Total reported killed: 212-410
Civilians reported killed: 13-63
Children reported killed: 1-2
Total reported injured: 100-212


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Who is dying in Pakistan drone strikes? See the Naming the Dead project.

January 2012

c. January 4th 2012
♦ 0 total killed
The first hoped-for US strike of 2012 did not happen, according to the Washington Post, following a veto by Pakistan, with the two countries still locked in negotiations over new terms for CIA drone attacks:

In a rare display of deference early this month, the CIA informed the Pakistani government that it planned a drone strike against a terrorist target in the North Waziristan tribal region and asked Islamabad’s permission. When Pakistan declined, the strike was canceled, officials said.

Location: Unknown, North Waziristan
Source: Washington Post, The Bureau

Ob256 – January 10 2012
♦ 1-4 total killed
♦ 2 injured (woman and child)
The longest pause of the Obama drone war in Pakistan (55 days) came to an abrupt end when in a late evening attack two missiles destroyed a mudbrick house just outside Miranshah. Up to four alleged militants were reported killed, with Reuters initially citing Pakistani officials as saying the victims were ‘foreign fighters of Arab and possibly also Uzbek extraction‘. Qasim Noor, a student who witnessed the attack, told Associated Press: ‘It was an unusually big bang. Since it was extremely cold I didn’t leave the house, but could see a house on fire. In the morning, we saw a modest mud house had been destroyed‘. Ten days after the strike Reuters reported that the attack killed Aslam Awan, 25, (aka Abdullah Khorasani), who it described as a Pakistan-born senior external operations operative for al Qaeda. Pakistan’s The News reported that a Saudi national may also have died. According to a local tribesman:

A guest from the holy land (Saudi Arabia) living in a ramshackle house was killed on the spot but his wife and a son staying in the same room survived’.

Awan moved in his late-20s to the UK on a student visa in 2002. He worked in a clothing store and joined a group of young militants in Manchester before returning to Pakistan, the New York Times reported. He sent a letter to a friend Abdul Rahman, 25, urging him and his friends to join him. He wrote: ‘We have to do this work even with our last drop of blood. Please do migrate and encourage others to migrate too. Please invite everybody towards this cause.’ A US official said Awan was ‘a senior al Qaeda external operations planner who was working on attacks against the West’. He added: ‘His death reduces al Qaeda’s thinning bench of another operative devoted to plotting the death of innocent civilians.’

The attack led to a number of protests in Pakistan. On February 22 Reuters reported that US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General Martin Dempsey,  chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all spoke with senior Pakistani officials just prior to the attack to let them know the campaign would be resuming. The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on February 9 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community’. A Pakistani security source told Reuters they were joint operations. This strike ‘ made use of Pakistani “spotters” on the ground’, the agency reported.

Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: Associated PressExpress Tribune,  Xinhua, Daily Telegraph, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, The Bureau, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Voice of America, Dawn, The News, McClatchy, Reuters, Express Tribune, New York Times, Reuters, The News, The News, Reuters, The Scotsman, New York Times

Ob257 – January 12 2012
♦ 5-9 total killed
♦ 2-3 injured 
Up to nine militants, mostly Turkmeni, were killed in a US strike on two vehicles in Dogga, 18 miles west of Miranshah. Reuters reported a Pakistani intelligence source as saying: ”The missiles hit two cars that were heading towards the border. Several foreigners were in the cars, but we have no information on their nationalities yet.’ The News reported those killed

Were sitting in their vehicles after performing their Maghrib prayers when they came under attack. They said the double cabin pick-up vehicle caught fire and four men were killed on the spot. Their badly mutilated bodies were pulled out of the destroyed vehicle later. Another person, villagers said, was killed in the car. His body was mutilated and beyond recognition. There was no way to ascertain the identity of the slain men.’

Reports for a while claimed that Pakistan Taliban (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud may have been killed in the attack, based on radio intercepts. The TTP denied the claim. This and the previous strike were joint US-Pakistani operations, Reuters reported. Pakistani operatives coordinated the strike from the ground, despite the tense relations between the two allies. ‘Our working relationship is a bit different from our political relationship,’ the agency’s anonymous source remarked. He said ‘Al Qaeda is our top priority’, and said cooperation with the UK intelligence services was extensive. He outlined how cooperation between the US and Pakistan worked:

We run a network of human intelligence sources…Separately, we monitor their cell and satellite phones…Thirdly, we run joint monitoring operations with our US and UK friends.

Location: Doga Mada Khel, Datta Khel Tehsil, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, IRNA, BBC, Pakistan Today, Reuters, Voice of America, The Nation, CNN, AFP, Express Tribune, The News, Fox News, The Nation, Press Trust of India, McClatchy, The News, ABC News Radio, Dawn, Asia Times, The News, Bureau

Ob258 – January 23 2012
♦ 2-5 total killed
♦ 1-3 injured
Up to five people, four of them alleged Turkmeni militants possibly allied to al Qaeda, according to Reuters, were reported killed in a morning strike on a vehicle in North Waziristan. The vehicle was en route from Degan to Datta Khel and according to the BBC ‘was engulfed by fire after the missile strike. A nearby house was also damaged.’ A related attack on a house may have taken place in the nearby village of Mohammad Khel.

The local Pakistani authorities record drone attacks in an internal strike assessment. The Bureau published this document in January 2014 – it said two non-locals were killed in this attack.

Location: Deegan, North Waziristan
References: Associated Press, PTI, Press Association, Reuters, CNN, The Nation, BBC, AFP, Express Tribune, The News, Bureau

Ob259 – January 23 2012
♦ 0-2 total killed
Two missiles may also have struck a house in Mohammad Khel. CNN reported local intelligence officials as saying that nobody was killed in the attack, although The News reported local tribesmen as saying that two people died. This attack may be confused with Ob258.

LocationDatta Khel, North Waziristan
ReferencesAssociated PressPTIPress Association, Reuters, CNN, The Nation, The News, Bureau

February 2012 

Ob259ci – February 1 2012
♦ 13-20 total killed
There were clashing reports as to the source of an early morning attack on four Pakistan Taliban (TTP) compounds in Orukzai Agency. Dawn reported that the strike was carried out by the Pakistan Air Force – and that a TTP commander may have been killed. Earlier there had been some speculation as to whether US drones were involved.

Location: Darand Shekhan, Orukzai Agency 

Ob260 – February 8 2012
♦ 9-10 total killed
♦ 2-12 injured
Ten alleged militants were killed in an early morning attack on a house near Miranshah, North Waziristan. One anonymous Pakistani official reported: ‘The locals have pulled out nine bodies and around a dozen injured from the rubble of demolished house’. ‘There was wide speculation about the victims. One source claimed that those killed were part of a group run by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a local militant commander. A second reported that the Haqqani Network may have been targeted. Other Pakistan intelligence sources suggested that some of the targets were ‘from central Asia’, or from the Punjab. It was the first confirmed CIA drone strike in more than two weeks. In January 2014, the Bureau published an internal assessment of drone strikes collected by the Pakistani political authorities. It said three locals and seven non-locals were killed in this attack. Of the non-locals, four were reportedly Punjabis and three were foreigners.

Location: Tappi, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Herald Sun, Express Tribune, Deutsche Presse Agentur, AP, Al Jazeera, Reuters, BBC, The News, The Nation, Bureau

Ob261 – February 9 2012
♦ 3-8 total killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed, including one child
♦ 3 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Pakistan Taliban sources (ReutersDawnCentral Asia OnlineThe NewsAl Qaeda PR), Pakistani security officials (NBCExpress Tribune)

Badar Mansoor, the commander of a Pakistan Taliban faction with strong links to al Qaeda, was among up to eight people killed in a 4am attack by the CIA in Miranshah, North Waziristan, the second US strike in 24 hours. AFP named the other dead as Qari Fayaz, Maulvi Faisal Khurasani, Qari Mushtaq and Yasir Khurasani. However an unnamed Taliban militant said three of the dead were called Qari Imran, Qari Mushtaq and Qari Khurasani while the fourth was unidentified. He told The News:

Badar and others had gathered at the house of Qari Imran at Zafar Colony market in Miramshah when a drone fired missiles at the house.

However Central Asian Online reported Badr Mansoor’s real name was Qari Imran. There was confusion about whether civilians had also died or were only injured in the strike. Reuters cited a Pakistan Taliban commander saying Mansoor’s family died alongside him.

He was living in a small rented house with his wife and children in Miranshah. He, his wife and two other members of his family died on the spot.

Other sources stated either that one wife was killed, one wife and one child, or that one or both wives were injured in the attack, ‘possibly the wife and daughter of Mansoor’. An unverified al Qaeda press release announced Mansoor’s ‘martyrdom’ and claimed Mansoor’s wife or possibly his sister-in-law was wounded; it did not mention further casualties. Badar Mansoor (aka Fakher Zaman) took over the local leadership of al Qaeda after the death in a drone strike of Ilyas Kashmiri in summer 2011; according to analysts he was responsible for recruiting militants to al Qaeda from within Pakistan. AFP reported Pakistani intelligence officials as saying ‘Mansoor was responsible for attacks in Karachi and on the minority Ahmadi community that killed nearly 100 people in the eastern city of Lahore in May 2010.’ Officials told Reuters that ‘the death toll could rise because of damage to buildings next to the one targeted by the drone.’ Three policemen were murdered in Peshawar on February 24 by militants calling themselves the Sheikh Abdullah Azaam Brigade. Six other officers were wounded in the triple suicide bombing of a police station, which the Brigade said ‘was to avenge the killing of Badr Munir in a drone attack. The group warned that there would be more such attacks,’ according to The Nation. On March 8 al Qaeda’s media wing released a nine-minute eulogy for Mansoor, claiming:

America is now more eagerly attacking the Pakistani government’s targets. The drone program is being run with the full consent, permission and cooperation of the Pakistani government.

The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on January 10 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community.’

Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: AFPReuters, Associated Press, Reuters, Fox News, Associated Press, CNN, BBC, New York Times, MSNBC, McClatchy, AFP, The Nation, The News (Pakistan), Central Asia Online, Dawn (AP), The NewsThe News, al Qaeda press release, Long War Journal, Geneva Centre for Terrorism Analysis and Training, The NewsCentral Asian Online, Bureau

Ob262 – February 16 2012
♦ 5-6 total killed
♦ 4-7 injured
An early morning strike on a house in Spalga, near Miranshah, killed up to six alleged militants. Four were seriously injured. At least three Pakistani security officials in the area confirmed the attack, which a number of reports claimed was against the Haqqani Network.

In January 2014 the Bureau published an internal assessment of drone strikes collected by the local political authorities. It listed five ‘non-locals’ as killed in this attack, saying ‘reportedly the killed militants were [from] Punjabi Province.’

The strike came five days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Al Jazeera:

I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan. Drones are counter productive and we have discussed it thoroughly with the US administration.

Location: Spalaga, North Waziristan
References:Express Tribune, AFP, Press Trust of India, Radio Free Europe, The Nation (Pakistan), Associated Press, Al Jazeera, CNN, PTI, Washington PostAAPVoice of AmericaBBC,  Time, DawnExpress Tribune, Daily Times, The News, Frontier Post, Bureau

Ob263 – February 16 2012
♦ 8-15 total killed
♦ 3 people reported injured
In the second drone strike of the day up to 15 alleged militants died in an attack on a pick-up truck in Mir Ali. A number of reports referred to the dead as ‘Uzbek Islamists’. In January 2014, German media reported a German national died in the strike with alleged Uzbek militants. Patrick K, a 27-year-old from Hesse in western Germany, died in the attack according to a joint report by newspaper Sud-Deutsche Zeitung and broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk. The German domestic security service had reportedly tried to recruit Patrick K as an informant before he left the country, moving to Pakistan with his Pakistani wife.

An internal assessment of drone strikes, published by the Bureau in January 2014, listed eight people killed in this attack. Contradictorily, the entry in the document listed eight dead in this strike, describing them as ‘locals’ – meaning from the Pakistani tribal agencies. However the document also said: ‘Unconfirmed reports suggest that most of the killed were foreign nationals.’

According to a Pakistani security official ‘the vehicle caught fire and the dead bodies are badly mutilated.’ Four drones were reported to take taken part, according to villagers. One told The News: ‘No one could risk his life to get close to the destroyed vehicle and retrieve bodies of the slain people due to fear of the drones which were still flying over the area even after the attack.’

Location: Khaisoori, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: CNN, PTIWashington Post, AAP, Voice of America, BBCDawnThe News, Express TribuneDaily TimesFrontier Post, Sud-Deutsche Zeitung/NDR (Ger), Associated Press, Bureau

Ob263a – February 25 2012
♦ 0 killed
The News reported that Pakistani troops searching for the wreckage of a crashed US drone narrowly missed injury when a missile was fired from a circling drone. A senior local official told the paper:

We were looking for the wreckage of the drone in Machikhel village, Mir Ali, and were almost close to the debris of the destroyed aircraft when one of the drones flying over the area fired a missile and hit two missiles lying on the ground. It would have caused heavy losses to security forces and others engaged in the search operation. They were lucky to survive.

The US drone had crashed earlier that day, with the Taliban claiming it had shot the UAV down. Militants allied to Hafiz Gul Bahadur told Reuters: ‘The drone today in Machikhel was flying at low altitude and our fighters fired at and shot it down. We have trained people for such type of job. We got hold of half of the wreckage and were looking for the remaining parts when the Pakistan army troops arrived there and then we decided to leave. The troops fired heavy search lights and are looking for wreckage of the drone.’ A US official denied that the drone had been shot down.

Location: Machi Khel, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: The News, The News, Reuters, Associated Press, Dawn, AFP, Express Tribune, CNN, PTI

March 2012

Ob264 – March 9 2012
♦ 4-15 total killed
♦ 0-3 injured
A rare CIA drone strike just inside South Waziristan killed up to 15 alleged militants. The attack, the first in more than three weeks, struck a vehicle (see also below) in the Mandao borderlands area. A senior Pakistani security official told AFP:

A drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. At least eight militants were killed. It is not immediately clear if some important target was hit in the missile strike.’

The News reported that those killed were allied to the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and as well as ‘local Mehsud’ may have included ‘some foreign militants’. Der Spiegel later reported that the morning strike killed Samir H, 29, a German citizen. The Islamist Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) later released a martyrdom video giving his full name as Samir Hatour or Abu Laith. In the video, IMU spokesman Yassin Chouka, also a German citizen, said:

After a 40-day deployment in South Waziristan, on the morning of 9 March 2012, which was a Friday, Abu Laith [Hatour] went to his family, and on the way, the car in which he was along with three other mujahideen was fired upon by an American drone and the brothers died as martyrs.”

According to the Der Spiegel article, a least one of three missiles hit the vehicle, a pick-up truck, killing Samir and 11 others. The attack that killed Samir occurred on the same day that Islamabad announced the imminent replacement of controversial spy chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. Pasha, who had run the ISI for four years, was to be replaced by Lt. General Zaheerul Islam the following week.

Born in west German city of Aachen to a German convert mother and a Tunisian father, Samir left Germany for Pakistan in October 2009. He travelled first to Iran then Pakistan, accompanied by his wife, a German of Tunisian descent, his son Hamsa and his daughter Shaima. Der Spiegel reported German investigators believed Samir to be one of the most dangerous Islamists in the country. His sister Soumaia left for Waziristan in 2010 where she is believed to remain. Der Spiegel reported this strike had the potential to reignite the debate in Germany on the legality of the drones by the US and could increase diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Location: Shaktoi, South Waziristan
References: Express Tribune, Associated Press, CNN , BBC, AFP, Kuna, AP, Reuters, CNN, Dawn, The News, TIME, Der Spiegel, Long War Journal, Bureau

Ob265 – March 9 2012
♦ 6 killed
Three sources reported a second strike. The first reportedly hit a vehicle, killing up to 15 militants. The second strike was said to have hit a house 12 kilometres away, killing ‘six Uzbeks’.

Location: Sararogha, South Waziristan
Reference: CNNDawn, Bureau

Ob266 – March 13 2012
♦ 6-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 injured
Two senior commanders of a Taliban faction were among up to eight people killed in a CIA strike on South Waziristan. The men – part of a group commanded by Maulvi Nazir – died in an attack on their vehicle. An eyewitness identified one of the commanders as Amir Hamza Toji Khel described as ‘a prominent member of the newly established council of the militants namely Shura Muraqiba’. The shura was reportedly formed in late December 2011 ‘to sort out differences among militant groups and stop killing of local tribesmen by terming them “spies”.’ The other commander was named as Shamsullah, reported to be an assistant to Maulvi Nazir himself. Two other deceased militants were named as Wajahat and Abdullah. Although Nazir’s group fights in the insurgency in Afghanistan, it has maintained a six year ceasefire with Pakistan’s forces inside Waziristan, making it highly unlikely that Islamabad would have endorsed the strike.

Location: Darnashtra, South Waziristan
References: Dawn, Associated Press, PakWatan, Express Tribune , IRNA, The Nation, BBC, PTI, Reuters, The NewsFrontier Post, Dawn, The NewsThe News, Bureau

Ob267 – March 13 2012
♦ 6-7 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
A strike was reported on another vehicle some hours later in the borderlands of North and South Waziristan, killing up to seven people. According to the Frontier Post ‘locals of the area said that a double cabin pick up was hit by missiles from drone planes which killed seven people burning down the pick-up to ashes. It was not known who were the killed ones.’ The News reported that the men were also part of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban group.

Location: Shawal, South Waziristan
References: Express Tribune , Reuters, The News, Frontier Post, The News, Bureau

Ob268 – March 30 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured
A house in the market area of Miranshah town was destroyed in a 3am attack, killing up to four alleged militants. According to AFP, the CIA strike also sparked a fire in the moneychangers’ market. The blast reportedly destroyed five shops including a bakery, three grocery shops and a telephone kiosk. Eyewitness Yousuf Khan described the attack and aftermath: ‘I was sleeping in my home when a deafening sound woke me up. Fearing that my house has been attacked, I peeped out of my window and saw flames raging from the building facing my house. Two men holding Kalashnikov rifles warned me to go inside. I shut the window and went to sleep.” There were competing claims as to the identity of the victims. AP cited intelligence officials saying that those killed and injured were Uzbeks; Reuters reported that they were local Taliban; and agency AGI claimed they were ‘Arabs.’ MSNBC later aired footage of the aftermath of the attack, showing that it took place in a built-up market area of the town.

MSNBC airs footage of the strike

The drone strike came at a highly sensitive time, with a recent Parliamentary Committee on National Security report to Islamabad’s parliament calling for an end to all US drone strikes in Pakistan, and during high-level negotiations between the US and Pakistan on possible new rules, said to include limiting the type of strikes, and informing Pakistan in advance. A senior unnamed US official voiced rare internal criticisms of the US programme telling CNN that the White House was making a serious mistake by putting the options on the table for the Pakistanis to seize.

The big mistake was the administration – I did try to warn them – that once you put it on the table, it will only get worse. Sure enough, once they put it on the table, (Pakistan) grabbed it, and they’ve run with it and now it’s the centerpiece of their negotiations.”

The senior official also voiced criticisms of CIA Director David Petraeus: ‘The director and I have had serious go-rounds about this particular issue before he did it, and he did it anyway. And now I think we’re paying the price.”

Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune, AFP, Associated Press, Reuters, AIGExpress Tribune, Associated Press, CNN, Associated Press, CNN, MSNBC, The News, Bureau

April 2012

Ob269 – April 29 2012
♦ 3-6 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured
Despite ongoing negotiations between the US and Pakistan – and a unanimous vote by Pakistan’s parliament to end the drone strikes – the CIA ended a 29-day pause by bombing an ex-girls’ school in Miranshah and killing up to six alleged militants – among them the leader of an Uzbek militant group.  The school was reportedly engulfed in flames. Locals described four drones flying over the town prior to the attack. Pakistan strongly condemned the strike, describing it as ‘in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations.’ At the same time US counter-terrorism chief John Brennan went on American TV to claim that ‘Sometimes you have to take life to save lives.’ Local resident  Haji Niamat Khan told Reuters that more than two dozen militants were living in the school when it was attacked. The location was in the town’s market area – scene of the previous strike in March. Reuters also quoted a Pakistani security official:

We intercepted internal conversation of the militants asking for arranging four coffins for the slain men in the drone attack. We don’t know about their identity and nationality but those living in the girls’ school were mostly Arabs.

However Associated Press reported another official as saying the victims may have been ‘Uzbek or Tajik militants.’ Dawn reported that the target was ‘Punjab Taliban. And an anonymous US official later said that the school  was a “staging and planning area for Al Qaeda, the Haqqanis and other terrorists.’ In August 2012 the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan reported on its Furqon website that its leader, Uthman/Usman Atil, had died in the attack. Atil had replaced previous IMU leader Tahir Yuldashev, also killed by a drone.

Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: Reuters, Associated Press, Al Jazeera, AFP, Punjab News, MSNBC, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Los Angeles Times,New York Times, Express Tribune, Wall Street Journal, AP, NPR, Dawn, New York Times, Furqon (Uzbek), Long War Journal, The News, The News, Washington Post, Bureau

May 2012 

Ob270 – May 5 2012
♦ 8-10 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured 
The CIA carried out its third drone strike during sensitive negotiations with Pakistan. Missiles hit an alleged militant training camp in the forested Shawal area, killing up to ten people. CNN reported the dead as members of the Pakistan Taliban according to Muhammad Amin, a senior government official in the region. The Frontier Post reported locals were afraid to assist in rescue work as up to four drones remained in the area after the attack. The Pakistan Observer identified those killed as ‘local tribesmen’. Pakistan’s government once again condemned the strike in strong terms, calling the attack ‘illegal’ and stating:

It is our considered view that the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counter productive.

The attack came just days after chief US counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said that the US would seek to respect other nations’ sovereignty in its drone strikes. Leon Panetta, US defence secretary, also confirmed ‘the United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances.’

In February 2013 it emerged an alleged senior al Qaeda militant Abd el Kader Mahmoud Mohamed el Sayed and his son Saleh were killed in a drone strike in Spring 2012. It is not clear where or when they died. El Sayed was reportedly a ‘longtime senior jihadist leader and military commander’ who had led a militant cell in Milan, Italy.

Location: Darnashtra, North Waziristan
References: AFP, MSNBC, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, PTI, Frontier Post, The News, The Nation (Pakistan), SANA, McClatchy, Dawn, Express Tribune, CNN, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan Observer, Long War Journal, Bureau

President Obama welcomes fellow NATO-leaders to Chicago

Ob271 – May 23 2012
♦ 1-5 reported killed
♦ 2 injured
In the first recorded US drone strike in Pakistan in 18 days, up to five alleged militants were killed in a 2.40am strike on a house in Datta Khel, with ‘several’ injured. As many as five drones were reported over Miranshah at the time of the attack, suggesting a possible High Value Target may have been present. AFP reported residents as saying that the bodies of those killed had been charred badly, and that militants had cordoned off the area and were sifting through the rubble. The strike came despite continuing Pakistani protests at the attacks, and an ongoing dispute with the United States about the resumption of the delivery of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through the country. At the NATO summit in Chicago, two days before the strike, President Obama told reporters: ‘I don’t want to paper over real challenges there. There’s no doubt that there have been tensions between [the NATO military coalition] and Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan over the last several months.’

Location: Darpa Khel, North Waziristan
References: Xinhua, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CNN, GeoTV, Christian Science Monitor, Deccan Herald, Express Tribune, The News, Bureau

Ob272 – May 24 2012
♦ 5-12 reported killed
♦ 0-8 civilians reported killed
♦ 3-4 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Pakistani security officials on damage to mosque and casualties (KUNAPakistan TodayBBCChannel 4 NewsSANAThe News), Taliban sources (Channel 4 News), a named eyewitness (The News). 

The CIA’s drones returned to the attack for the second time in 24 hours, killing at least eight people. A house and a nearby mosque were hit as villagers attended morning prayers. It is not clear which building was the primary target although  a 2013 Amnesty International report said the mosque was destroyed and some houses nearby were damaged. Amnesty’s field investigation found eight were killed in the attack – four Taliban and four foreign fighters. Of the Taliban, two were named in the report: Abdul Samad Dawar and Hakimullah Dawar. Associated Press’ sources said that ‘most of those killed were Uzbek insurgents‘ and said the attack targeted a ‘militant hideout’. Researchers at Stanford University and New York University noted that an Associated Press report filed four days later referred to the strike but still did not mention multiple reports that a mosque had been hit.

A Bureau field investigation found this was a follow-up or ‘double-tap’ strike. A number of people had gathered in a small makeshift mosque, more were sitting outside because ‘the high temperatures in the summer mean early morning Fajr prayers are often held in fields’. Drones attacked the gathering, firing two missiles and hitting the mosque. Four people, thought to be Arabs and Turkmen, were killed in the first strike. Ten or 20 minutes later, six or seven people including local Dawar tribesmen arrived to rescue the wounded. As they were pulling bodies from the rubble the drones returned and fired four more missiles. Six perished in the second strike and 12 more were seriously injured. Two died of their injuries in a Mir Ali medical facility. The Bureau’s researchers did not find any evidence civilians were killed in this strike.

However AFP reported at least three civilians died when the mosque was struck during morning prayers. A security official told the news agency that three worshipers, believed to be Central Asians, ‘were seriously wounded and died later in the hospital.’ Channel 4 News said that most of the dead were local villagers, with four of 12 killed being ‘foreign fighters, believed to be Turkmen’. KUNA reported tribal elders as saying that all of those killed were ‘innocent local tribesmen’. Villager Mohammad Roshan Dawar later told The News:

Some of the people had offered the prayers and were leaving the mosque. Others were still praying and some were reciting the Holy Quran, when the drone fired two missiles and struck the mosque. The small structure of the mosque was demolished in the attack and those present inside were buried under the debris of the building.

The wounded were reportedly taken to Miranshah Agency Headquarters Hospital, where an anonymous doctor complained that the injured ‘were brought to us in a serious condition and had suffered multiple injuries. Also, we do not have any facility here in the hospital to save lives of seriously injured patients. Let alone other facilities, the only X-ray machine at the hospital is also out of order’.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporter: ‘We strongly condemn the drone attacks. We regard them a violation of our territorial integrity. They are in contravention of international law. They are illegal, counter-productive and totally unacceptable.’ He added that ‘matters related to NATO supply [and] drone attacks are under discussion with the US, and that ‘Pakistan wants to solve the matter of drones with the US through negotiation rather to move UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice.’ The strike occurred on the same day that Amnesty International issued its annual report, in which it again raised concerns that US covert drone strikes ‘appear to have amounted to extrajudicial executions.’

Location: Hisokhel, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Reuters, KUNA, Pakistan Today, Associated Press, Associated PressAFP, BBC, CBS, The Nation (Pakistan), MSNBC, Channel 4 News, Amnesty International, SANA, The News (Pakistan), Dawn, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Living Under Drones, Bureau, Amnesty International, Bureau

Ob273 – May 26 2012
♦ 1-4 reported killed
♦ 2 injured 
Drone strikes returned to levels not seen in Pakistan since autumn 2011, as the CIA attacked for the third time in a week. Four alleged militants died in a 4.30am attack when the Madina Bakery was struck in Miranshah bazaar, North Waziristan. According to Associated Press the victims – all ‘foreigners’ or ‘Arabs’ – were buying bread when the shop was bombed, marking a rare deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure. Other agencies reported that a house was struck, or that the target was an apartment above the bakery. All reported that the building was destroyed. BBC reporter Ahmed Wali Majeeb was staying just 500m from the attack site when the missiles struck. He later wrote:

It’s 04:15 in the morning when the blast wakes me. Just as someone next to me says it’s the sound of a missile being fired there is an angry whizzing noise overhead and then an explosion. The gap between the missile being launched and hitting its target is just a few seconds. People run out of their homes into the street in fear. Some are rushing to the spot to see who has been hit. A room on top of a bakery in the centre of the market has been destroyed. Some local people and Taliban are clearing the rubble. They say three people have been killed. A few minutes later, the Taliban and locals are able to sift through the rubble and dig up the dead and injured. These are quickly taken away from the site of the attack and no-one is willing to say who they are. When I try to speak to people and militants later, everybody gives a different answer. It seems that no-one is sure who has been killed, but before long I hear on the radio that a senior al-Qaeda leader – Abu Hafs al Misri – is among the dead. In the aftermath of this attack, I speak to local shopkeepers. One is very angry. He says the attacks have destroyed the lives and livelihood of the local population.

Al Misri had previously been reported killed in autumn 2010.

Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: BBC, Associated Press, AFP, CNN, Xinhua, MSNBC, Pakistan Observer, Frontier Post, The News, Express Tribune, BBC, Viewpoint OnlineAmnesty International, Bureau

Ob274 – May 28 2012
♦ 4-10 reported killed
♦ 4 civilians reported injured, including 3 children
CIA drones returned to attack in North Waziristan for the fourth time in six days, with two strikes in the village of Hasukhel, 4km south of Mir Ali. It appeared at the time that this strike could have marked a return to the deliberate targeting of rescuers at the scene, a tactic first uncovered by the Bureau. However a Bureau field investigation published in August 2013 found it was two discrete strikes. The first attack targeted but missed a truck at 4am. The second attack, 10 minutes later, hit the pickup and killed seven passengers – alleged militants – as it passed near a house on the Khaisura road. CBS News later reported that Al Qaeda commander Yahya al Libi was the target of the attack, but that he had escaped with injuries. Al Libi was killed June 4.

Initial reports said up to ten people were killed in the bombing of a house under construction, reportedly owned by Balbal KhanBureau investigators found a house near the pickup truck was also slightly damaged and four people were injured, three children and a woman. All were taken to the public Tehsil Hospital in Mir Ali where they were given treatment and survived. The house was located close to the same mosque where drones struck on May 24 2012 (Ob270). Some local media reporting that five drones were hovering over the target area and Officials claimed that most of those killed were foreigners, but could not confirm their nationality. A Pakistani security official said the area ‘was known for harbouring Uzbek, Arab and other foreign militants.’

Location: Khushali, North Waziristan
References:Xinhua, BBC, AFP, Express Tribune, Sky News (Australia), The Nation (Pakistan), Associated Press, Khaama Press, Voice of Russia Radio, RTT News, ANI, IANS, Dawn, Express Tribune, Washington Post, Pakistan Observer, CBS News, The News, The News, Bureau, Bureau

Ob275 – May 28 2012
♦ 2-5 reported killed
A second missile attack destroyed a vehicle in Datta Khel, 30km west of Miranshah. Up to five alleged militants died. A security official told AFP that ‘The drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. The vehicle caught fire and the bodies of the people inside were badly burnt.’ Another official reported that the deceased were ‘two foreigners and their local driver.’ The News reported a villager as saying that ‘a nearby house was also damaged in the attack, but its inmates remained safe.’

Location: Zangar Khel, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune, Dawn, AFP, Associated Press, The News, Express Tribune

June 2012 

Ob276 – June 2 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
In the first reported CIA action in South Waziristan since March 13, up to four people were reported killed in a strike targeting a motorbike in Khawashi Khel, 5km to the east of Wana. Security officials told AFP that alleged militants had been moving from one area to another near the Afghan border, and that ‘the US drone fired two missiles which completely destroyed the vehicle.’ Two members of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban-aligned faction. The men were identified as local Taliban commander Khalil Yargul Khail (aka Jalil) and Rehmanullah Gangi Khail (aka Amanullah). According to a Bureau field investigation published in August 2013, the two men were on their way to the Rustam bazaar in Wana. A CIA drone fired two missiles at the pair – the first missed but second hit, killing both men. They were buried in the Gangikhel tribal graveyard – Rehmanullah was a member 0f the Gangikhel sub-tribe of the Ahmadzai Wazir. According to Bureau researchers he was a senior Taliban commander and was the brother of Commander Malang, a senior figure in Mullah Nazir’s fighting group.

Location: Kari Kot, South Waziristan
References: The Nation (Pakistan), CNN, Radio Free Europe, AFP, GeoTV, Dawn, The News (Pakistan), Associated Press, IRNA, Express Tribune, The News (Pakistan), Bureau, Bureau

Ob276c – June 2 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
One agency reported a second drone attack of the day, on a house in the Ghowa Khowa area close to Wana. Four people were reported killed.

Location: Ghowa Khowa, Wana, South Waziristan
References: The Nation (Pakistan), ANI

Ob277 – June 3 2012
♦ 0-10 reported killed
♦ 4-10 injured
Initial reports said drones attacked funeral prayers held with the family of a Taliban commander killed the day before killed up to 10 people. US drones reportedly struck a house in Mana Raghzai as people gathered for funeral prayers for Khalil Yargul Khail and Rehmanullah Gangi Khail, the brother of senior Taliban commander Malang. There were reports that both commanders had died,  the New York Times later quoted a Wana government official as saying that both men lived and were ‘stable’. Bureau field researchers investigated this attack as a part of the Bureau’s investigation into follow-up strikes, published in August 2013.

The investigators found Commander Malang had traveled to Gangikhel village where his brother was buried, to offer fateha or condolence for his brother. Tribal elders and well-wishers advised Malang not to stay in the village as the risk of drone attack made it dangerous to both him and other mourners. Malang moved to the nearby village of Wocha Dana. Some of his close friends, including fellow commander Ghulam Khan, still wished to see him and offer fateha to him. Just as Khan and Malang met on the bank of a dry stream, a drone fired two missiles at them.

A car and a double-cab pickup were hit. Malang and Khan leapt into a pool in the stream bead, each suffering injuries to their legs and faces. Four other alleged militants were also seriously injured. Two were Ahmadzai Wazir tribesmen and two from the Mehsud tribe. Three were called Dawa Khan Wazir, Nek Amal Khan Wazir and Said Rasool Wazir. They were taken to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Wana. Malang and Ghulam Khan were taken to a private health facility in the same town due to security concerns, according to a prominent tribal elder of the Ahmadzai Wazir, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Location: Barmal, South Waziristan
References: Kuna, Daily Mail, Express Tribune, CNN, Reuters, The News (Pakistan), The Nation (Pakistan), The Guardian, AFP, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, Dawn, Sky News, New York Times, The News (Pakistan), Bureau, Bureau

Ob278 – June 4 2012
♦ 14-18 reported killed
♦ 0-6 civilians reported killed
♦ 3-6 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: field investigation (Amnesty International)

Al Qaeda’s effective number two, Abu Yahya al Libi (aka Mohammed Hasan Qaed), was killed as the CIA continued with a tempo of strikes not seen in Pakistan for over a year. The Islamabad government once again condemned the attacks as ‘illegal’ and urged the US to stop. Drones struck at 5am in North Waziristan, killing up to 18 people as a house and some vehicles were hit. US and Taliban figures confirmed the following day that al Libi had died in the attack. Some reports claimed that al Qaeda was now so degraded in Pakistan that there was no natural successor to succeed al Libi. White House spokesman Jay Carney said of his death:

His death is part of the degradation that has been taking place to core al Qaeda during the past several years and that degradation has depleted the ranks to such an extent that there’s no clear successor.

One anonymous US official claimed that only five people died in the strike, another that only al-Libi died. However most sources reported between 14 and 18 deaths, including al-Libi’s driver and bodyguard. According to the BBC, the CIA attacked militants attending the scene of an initial strike. This was born out by a Bureau field investigation into follow-up or ‘double-tap’ strikes. The Bureau’s researchers in Pakistan found five people were killed and four more injured in the first attack which damaged a car and two motorbikes parked inside the house compound were also damaged. Twelve people arrived to start rescue work about 10 minutes alter. There were Arabs, Turkmen and local tribesmen among the first responders. Twenty minutes later a drone fired two more missiles killing 10 more people. Al Libi was observing the rescue operation when he was killed.

A 2013 report by Amnesty International produced similar results to the Bureau’s investigation. Amnesty researchers compiled data from multiple interviews with witnesses and survivors, finding between four and six people were killed in the first strike and 10 to 12 in the second. However Amnesty reported four to six of the dead were civilians, as yet the only source to report civilian casualties

In September 2012, Associated Press reported two US intelligence officials as saying that a Saudi man named Najam had lost both legs in a drone strike ‘at about the same time as al Libi died.’ According to the anonymous officials:

Najam, who came from an affluent family, was able to reach an agreement with the Saudi government to return to his wife and children. Intelligence suggests that Najam’s treatment has encouraged other militants to seek similar deals, switch to other battlefields or seek leniency from their governments.

The intensity of the US campaign led to claims by some that the US was carrying out punitive strikes. Islamabad called in the US charge d’affaires Richard Hoagland to formally complain about the strikes. He was told that ‘drone strikes represented a clear red-line for Pakistan.’ The Islamabad-based Conflict Monitoring Center, in its monthly report, accused the US of going on a ‘rampage’ in ‘a bid to punish Pakistan for the conviction of Dr. Afridi as well as its reluctance to reopen NATO supply routes.’ The CMC noted that prior to the NATO summit and Afridi’s conviction, only one US strike had taken place in May. Afterwards there were five, mainly aimed at ‘Taliban groups who are in a peace agreement with Pakistani authorities.’ An anonymous senior US official rejected this, claiming that the jump in CIA strikes was simply down to the weather. He told the New York Times that ‘Until now the area was socked in by a long stationary front with cloud cover.’ Less than a week after the strike messages were posted on al Qaeda websites suggesting that al-Libi remained alive.  The terrorist group also posted a video of al-Libi discussing recent events in Libya, with no references to his reported killing. However on the anniversary of 9/11 al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al Zawahiri finally confirmed al Libi’s death.

Location: Hisokhel, North Waziristan
References: The News (Pakistan), The Nation (Pakistan), Reuters, AGI, PTI, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Center, Associated Press, MSNBC, IRNA, CNN, The Guardian, Reuters, BBC, ABC News, Reuters, Washington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, CNN, CBS, Al Arabiya, New York Times, Washington Post, AFP, AFP, Los Angeles Times, The News, Associated Press, AFPThe News, BureauAmnesty International, Bureau

Ob279 – June 13 2012
♦ 2-4 killed
Up to four alleged militants were killed in the first strike for nine days. Initial estimates put the casualty figure at three but AFP reported this was subsequently updated by an anonymous Pakistani official. The men were traveling in a vehicle in the evening when multiple missiles were fired from a US drone. The strike hit 10km east of Mirahshah in the village of Isha. Witnesses said the vehicle immediately caught fire when finally hit, adding that several drones had been seen circling the area that day.

The strike came amid continued strained relations between Islamabad and Washington. Two days previously the US announced it was withdrawing its negotiators who had spent six weeks trying to reach a deal with Pakistan to reopen supply routes through the country. Closing the border to NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan had forced the US to reroute the convoys through central Asia. This was costing the US $100 million a month, reported the Washington Post. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also urged a visiting delegation of US Congressmen to end the drone strikes.

Location: Isha Check Point, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Trend.AZ (DPA), ABC, NewsPakistan, INP, The Express Tribune, Xinhua, The News, The Hindu, Xinhua, Outlook India, The News Tribe, Radio Free Europe, Reuters, Washington Post, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Associated Press, Bureau

Ob280 – June 14 2012
♦ 1-4 killed
2-3 reported injured
Initial reports declared up to four alleged militants were killed in an early morning CIA drone strike in Miranshah bazaar. An official told Express Tribune four Punjabis were killed when two missiles were reportedly fired on a building, hitting an upper floor. The official added: ‘The building, which comprised of two rooms, was razed to the ground as a result of the attack.’ And a local tribesman said six nearby shops were partially damaged when he went to look at the scene. For the third time in recent weeks there were claims that the CIA had used a ‘follow-up strike’ tactic first exposed by the Bureau in February 2012. As many as five drones reportedly remained over the area following the strike, indicating the possible presence of a High Value Target.

However a second Bureau field investigation into follow-up strikes showed this was not the case. The report, published in August 2013, found no evidence of a follow-up attack and revealed only one person died: a senior Arab commander, commonly known as the SheikhThe Bureau’s field researcher said:

Despite claims by others of multiple deaths and a destroyed building, I am adamant of my findings. I went back to my sources among the Taliban, tribesmen and security officials. All are unanimous that only one person, believed to be an Arab national, was killed in the attack. The building remains intact.

The Sheikh was killed while sleeping on the roof of a building he and his men had rented from a local tribal elder. The elder told the Bureau: ‘It was one of the strangest attacks so far carried out by drones here. The entire building remained safe and it didn’t even cause damage to the rooftop where he was sleeping.’ Militants told the Bureau body parts of the slain man were later recovered from adjoining buildings.

Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Xinhua, Outlook India, The News Tribe, Radio Free Europe, ABC Australia Network News, CNN, Express Tribune, Associated Press, al Jazeera, Dawn, Bureau,