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||3|
|Total reported killed:||15-24|
|Civilians reported killed:||0|
|Children reported killed:||0|
|Total reported injured:||6-8|
See the databases for previous strikes under President Obama: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009
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, killing six alleged militants. Early reports put the death toll at three, although later a Pakistani intelligence source told reporters that six people had died: ‘According to intercepts of the militants, four were Uzbek militants and two members of the Punjabi Taliban,’ he said, according to NBC.
An intelligence official described to AFP how 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,’ resident Yar Mohammad told the news channel by telephone.
An unnamed ‘senior intelligence official’ told AFP that following the strike, 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.’
Pakistani officials told the New York Times ‘at least four’ had died and a local intelligence official said the dead were ‘three Uzbeks and two members of the Haqqani Network’.
Early reports did not identify any of the dead or indicate their seniority. The attack took place in Darga Mandi or Tabbi Tolkhel, a few miles west of Miranshah.
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
June 12 2014
♦ 6-10 reported killed
♦ 4 reported wounded
Hours after the five-month hiatus in drone strikes ended, drones fired multiple missiles at alleged militants, reportedly killing either six or 10 people. But reports disagreed on the target of the strikes, with 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. ‘Three US drones fired six missiles on militants who had gathered to dig the debris of a compound,’ a security official told AFP. Two vehicles were also hit, he added. Islamabad-based research unit Conflict Monitoring Centre (CMC) also reported the strike targeted rescuers: ‘[The] second drone strike was carried out at [the]same location after [a] few hours to target the rescue team.’ And PTI reported the strike hit the same site as the earlier attack but did not mention an attack on rescuers.
NBC News also reported that the attack took place in the same village as the previous strike, adding that it 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. Two unnamed officials said the attack targeted the Haqqani Network, the group that held US soldier Bowe Bergdahl captive until his release in a controversial prisoner exchange the week before the strikes resumed.
According to Pakistan local newspaper Dawn and the CMC Haji Gul, a key Haqqani network commander from Afghanistan, was allegedly killed in the Dande Darpakhel strike. The attack also reportedly killed other prominent Afghan Taliban commanders Mufti Sofian and Abu Bakar as well as destroying explosive-laden vehicles, reportedly bound for missions across the Pakistani border.
Other commanders reportedly killed in the strike and identified by Dawn and the CMC are Commander Yasin Gardezi, Abdullah Khan, Commander Jamil, Commander Asadullah and their driver Noor Khan. The CMC named six more alleged Haqqani Network members killed in the strike as: Commanders Saif el Jihad and Roohullah, both Pashtuns from Pakistan, and Hamza Gul, Hamza, Bilal and Mehmood – all reportedly of unknown origins.
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
June 18 2014
♦ 5-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 reported injured
The third strike of the month hit at least one house and vehicle, killing at least five alleged militants. The strike hit in the early hours – around 4-4.30am according to two reports.
The majority of sources reported as many as six missiles hit a house and a vehicle on the outskirts of Miranshah – the capital of North Waziristan – either Dargah Mandi, Danday Darpa Khel or in Miranshah itself. Some sources reported the vehicle was inside the walls of housing compound when the strike hit. Others were less specific. The reports did not identify the owner of the house or the victims of the strike, describing them simply as militants.
However the Wall Street Journal reported strike targetted a Haqqani Network compound, killing at least five, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. The attack hit at around 4am local time. The paper also reported: ‘A store and at least two vehicles were destroyed.’
And 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 strike 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.
Pakistani government sources said at least 187 alleged militants had been killed by June 18, with some counts putting it over 200, as well as a handful of Pakistani soldiers. There were few reports of civilian casualties however Pakistani offensives against militants in the tribal areas in the past have caused civilian casualties. Aid agencies have estimated as many as 400,000 people may be displaced by the operation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Location: Danday Darpa Khel, Dargah Mandi or Miranshah; Miranshah Tehsil; North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Associated Press, Voice of America, PTI, Xinhua, Wall Street Journal, The News, Khaama Press, NBC News, AFP