Pak admits terrorists killed in drone strikes

Islamabad: Pakistan army has admitted that most of those killed in the CIA-operated drone strikes in northwest Pakistan were "hardcore Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists" notwithstanding the government`s public posture that such attacks were causing civilian deaths.

In a rare public briefing on the attacks by pilotless aircraft in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, the Pakistan Army a fairly large number of those killed were of foreign origin including Arabs and Uzbeks.

Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmood, General Officer Commanding of the 7 Division, presented the Pakistan Army`s official version of the US drone attacks for the first time during a briefing held at Miranshah, the main town of the restive North Waziristan tribal region, yesterday.

"Myths and rumours about US Predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it`s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners," Mehmood was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.

"Yes, there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements."

An official paper on the drone attacks conducted till Monday said over 964 terrorists had been killed in about 164 missile strikes carried out during 2007-2011.

Those killed included 793 local tribesmen and 171 foreigners, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans.

While in 2007, only a single militant was killed in the drone strike, the figures have zoomed to more than 423 terrorists in 2010, which marked the deadliest period.

In 2008, 23 drone strikes killed 152 militants, of whom 12 were foreigners or affiliated with Al Qaeda.

In 2009, around 20 drone strikes killed 179 militants, including 20 foreigners, and in the following year, 423 militants, including 133 foreigners, were killed in 103 strikes.

In attacks till March 7 this year, 39 militants, including five foreigners, were killed.