At Least 16 Dead Following Latest US Drone Attack in Pakistan

Second strike in 48 hours; Imran Khan announces plans for anti-drone rally in front of UN headquarters

By Common Dreams

In the second attack in as many days, a suspected US drone has killed up to 16 people and wounded 6 more in northwest Pakistan, according to CNN International.

Pakistan’s Imran Khan vows to bring his anti-war message to the UN, where he will hold a rally and present the global body with a million signature petition calling for an end to US drone strikes.

The attack occurred in the Orakzai region near the Afghan border, an area repeatedly targeted by the US military. Though the Obama administration and CIA refuse to verify individual cross-border strikes by the unmanned drones, the ongoing program is well known.

Agence France-Presse, citing local officials, reports that four missiles were fired, and that most of the dead were Afghans.

The attack on Thursday follows a separate strike on Wednesday in North Waziristan which reportedly killed five people.

Both attacks occur in the immediate aftermath of a major anti-drone rally that took place in Waziristan last Sunday. Led by Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, the march led thousands, including a delegation of western and US peace advocates, into the tribal areas to draw international attention to the impact the US drone war is having on the region’s people.

Last month, US researchers from the law schools of Stanford and NYU released a report which concluded the US drone program—defended by many US military officials as a key tool in fighting the so-called “war on terror” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere—is itself “terrorizing” and that the overall impact of the campaign in Pakistan is “counterproductive” when it comes to addressing international law, security, and human rights.

“An entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies,” said Clive Stafford Smith from the UK-based human rights group Reprieve. “Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups.”

Following reports of the latest strike on Wednesday, Khan announced he would hold a second anti-drone rally, but this time gather people in front of the United Nations building in New York City.

“I’ll lead a demonstration outside the UN headquarters in New York on Oct 26,” Khan told reports on Wednesday. He vowed to collect a million signatures for a petition stating “that drone attacks are a violation of the UN charter as well as international laws and human rights.”

He said last week’s rally was a success because it showed the world the plight of those living in the tribal areas and drew attention to the illegality and inhumanity of the US drone program.

Pakistan is a “a sovereign, democratic country,” Khan said. “We take responsibility that there will be no terrorism from Pakistan, but you cannot dictate to us.”

In addition on Thursday, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry lodged an official protest with the US embassy in Islamabad in response to this week’s pair of drone attacks.

“A protest has been lodged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad against drone strikes inside Pakistani territory on 10 and 11 October 2012,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, Xinhua reported. The statement added that the rone strikes were in clear violation of International Law and Pakistan’s sovereignty.

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