Drone strikes in Pakistan kill dozens

MQ-8B Fire Scout drone helicopter (AFP Photo / US NAVY)
With tensions only worsening between America and Pakistan, a series of missile strikes believed to be carried out by US drone aircrafts killed dozens over the course of a few hours early Tuesday, marking one of the deadliest attacks of its kind ever.

The Associated Press reported this morning that at least 38 alleged militants were killed in a series of drone strikes carried out in the north-western part of the country in less than 12 hours’ time. According to reports from Reuters, however, at least 45 suspected insurgents have met their demise at the hands of robotic American aircrafts since Monday.

If the death count of 45 is correct, it will mark the second-highest daily toll since America began its drone warfare campaign back in 2004.

Pakistani intelligence officials have said that one of the houses hit in the Shawal area of North Waziristan killed ten alleged militants, with a strike targeted at another house in Dremala village killing at least eight. A late night Monday attack in Gorvask village took another 20, they say.

These strikes come barely a day after White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley told ABC News that Pakistan had “taken some steps”  that gave the US reason to withhold some military aid — $800 million in assistance, in fact.

Tensions have only worsened between the two nations since the early May assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Pakistani officials have voiced frustrations with the American military over their lack of cooperation in the clandestine raid that executed the former al-Qaeda leader.

"It's a complicated relationship in a very difficult, complicated part of the world,” Daley said this week. “Obviously, there's still lot of pain that the political system in Pakistan is feeling by virtue of the raid that we did to get Osama bin Laden, something that the president felt strongly about and we have no regrets over."

"Until we get through these difficulties, we will hold back some of the money that the American taxpayers have committed to give them,” he added.

The several hundred million being withheld makes up more than one-third of the aid the US was expected to hand over.

Last month Pakistani officials told the US that they had to vacate their drones from the Shamsi air base. The US had denied that they were stationing any of their aircrafts there, but Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said that the base was in fact being used by the American military.

That announcement came shortly after Pakistan had booted over 100 US officials out of the country, as well as a number of British military trainers.

In a rally earlier this year, Movement for Justice leader Imran Khan told the press that "There was not a single Taliban militant in Pakistan before 9/11 but since we joined this war, we are facing acts of terrorism, bombing and drone strikes.” Thousands gathered in Karachi to protest US drone operations, which have killed a number of civilians since the initiative was started.