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US drone strikes violate Pakistan's sovereignty


The head of a United Nations team investigating casualties from US drone strikes has concluded that the attacks violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, says the Pakistani government made clear to him it does not consent to the strikes.

He says Pakistani officials told him they have confirmed at least 400 civilian deaths by US drones.

A Pakistani analyst helping Emmerson's team, Imtiaz Gul, said Friday that he gave the UN investigator case studies of 25 strikes that allegedly killed civilians.

Emmerson's statement was released on Thursday, following his three-day visit to Pakistan that ended Wednesday.

US officials have disputed claims that drones have killed many civilians in Pakistan. They have also said Pakistan secretly consents to the strikes.

A study conducted last year by Bureau for Investigative Journalism concluded that between 2,562 and 3,325 people were killed in Pakistan between June 2004 and mid-September 2012. Among them, the study estimated that between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children.

In addition to the deaths, the bureau estimated that 1,300 people were injured in drone attacks in the same period.

A separate study conducted by the law schools of Stanford and and New York University said that the US government's drone program "terrorizes" local communities and kills large numbers of civilians.

The United States has been extremely secretive about its drone program since strikes began in Pakistan under former US President George W. Bush.

His successor Barack Obama has increasingly relied on drones to hit targets in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. A recent report in The New York Times revealed that the United States may expand its drone program to Northwestern Africa.

A US senator last month became the first government official to refer to fatality figures when he estimated 4,700 people, including some civilians, had been killed in the drone war.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the drone raids, said "We've killed 4,700," as cited by the Easley Patch, a local website covering the small town of Easley in South Carolina.

(AP, Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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