Over 30 people were killed and 45 injured when a suicide bomber detonated himself at the funeral of a family member of an anti-Taliban peace committee leader near Peshawar on Wednesday. Residents of the area are now up in arms against the government saying they were caught in the crossfire and left to deal with the Taliban.
The suicide bomber penetrated the gathering pretending to be a mourner at the funeral of the wife of Hakeem Khan, leader of the peace committee of Adezai. News agencies reported that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility to avenge the killing of militants in the area with the help of the peace committee.
Meanwhile, the Army has admitted that most of those killed in these Predator strikes were hard-core Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists; many of them of foreign origin. According to The Dawn, General Officer Commanding 7-Division Ghayur Mehmood briefed the media in Miramshah on Tuesday.
The officer was quoted as saying “myths and rumours about U.S. 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''. He did concede civilian casualties but maintained that majority were terrorists.
As per the 7-Division's count, there have been 164 drone strikes between 2007 and 2011 in which 964 terrorists were killed. Of these, 793 were locals and the remaining foreigners including Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans. While giving out official data, Maj Gen Mehmood — who is in charge of troops in North Waziristan — maintained that the drone attacks had a negative fall-out as it scared the locals and triggered their migration to other places.
The use of Predators by the U.S. to target Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives in their safe havens in the tribal agencies is a highly contentious issue between Washington and Islamabad.
Pakistan's contention is that the Washington-controlled drone attacks do not help counter terrorism as the loss of civilian lives fans further hatred towards the U.S. Instead, Islamabad has sought transfer of the drone technology to its Army.