Mostly Small Smart Weapon (SSW) or Scorpion Missile was fired in the 118 US drone attacks carried out in Pakistan during 2010, killing over 600 people and causing injuries of scores of others, sources told to The News.
The last attack was conducted on December 31 in the border village Ghulam Khan of North Waziristan. The first attack of the year was carried out on January 1 when a missile struck a vehicle near Ghundi village, also in North Waziristan, killing three people.
The number of drone attacks in Pakistan in 2010 was more than double of those carried out during 2009. The attacks were even more than all the missile strikes carried out by the US drones in Pakistan during the last six years.
At least 1,370 people have so far been killed in the drone attacks since 2004. Some sources put the casualties at over 2000. In 2010, the sources put the death toll in the drone attacks at over 1020. However, this figure could not be confirmed. Most of the drone strikes were carried out in North Waziristan where US is pressing Pakistan to launch military operation against the militants.
Pakistani authorities, however, have made it clear that the operation would not be launched on the directives of any foreign power. While going through the record of the drone attacks in Pakistan, only one strike was carried out in 2004, two each were reported in 2005 and 2006, and four in 2007. The number suddenly increased to 34 in 2008, killing at least 263 people. Last year 53 drone attacks were reported that left at least 413 people dead.
Over 100 of those killed during 2010 were reported to be foreigners including Arabs, Germans and citizens of other European countries. However, a majority, around 80 per cent, of the victims were Pakistanis.
Spokesman for the Pakistan Army, Major General Athar Abbas, while talking to the state-run television said they were not in favour of the drone attacks as “it harms more than it helps”. A source disclosed that the United States was using new missiles to cause lesser collateral damage. These missiles, it added, are called Small Smart Weapon or Scorpion that are around 21 inches long and weigh 16 kilograms.
Apart from targetting the vehicles and base camps of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North and South Waziristan, drones during 2010 were also used to hit the meeting of Lashkar-e-Islam and the fighters of the Swat chapter of Taliban in Khyber Agency’s Tirah valley on December 17 in an expanding programme to target the militants.
Drones carried out one attack in settled areas when a strike was launched in Bannu district in November 2008 and around 13 people were killed. The parliament as well as opposition parties have strongly protested the US drone attacks in Pakistan, insisting that most of the victims were innocent tribespeople.