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10 killed in drone attack on North Waziristan mosque

By Malik Mumtaz Khan & Mushtaq Yusufzai | The News | May 25, 2012

MIRANSHAH/ PESHAWAR: Ten people were killed and three others seriously injured in yet another US drone attack, this time on a mosque in Hasukhel village in the Mir Ali subdivision of North Waziristan Agency early Thursday.

This was the second missile attack by pilotless US spy planes in North Waziristan in the last two days. Reports said the victims included foreign militants, believed to be Turkmen. Villagers and officials of the political administration, however, insisted that all the worshippers were local residents. Tribal sources said the drone fired two missiles and pounded the village mosque where the tribesmen were offering the Fajr (morning) prayers.

“Some of the people had offered the prayers and were leaving the mosque. Others were still praying and some were reciting the Holy Quran, when the drone fired two missiles and struck the mosque. The small structure of the mosque was demolished in the attack and those present inside were buried under the debris of the building,” a tribesman, Mohammad Roshan Dawar, said.

Talking to The News from Hasukhel village by phone, he said four US spy planes were seen flying over the area at the time of the attack. He said a large number of villagers later arrived there and helped retrieve the bodies of the slain men and those injured in the attack.

The tribesman said some houses located close to the mosque were also damaged in the missile strike, but did not cause any loss of life to the inmates. He said bodies of the slain men were mutilated beyond recognition.

“Their bodies were almost burnt and could not be recognised easily. It was a horrible scene as the villagers were offering prayers and reciting the Holy Quran in the mosque but within minutes there was devastation and human bodies lying everywhere,” the tribesman recalled.

Tribal sources said three people seriously injured in the attack were admitted to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Miranshah. Pleading anonymity, a senior doctor at the Miranshah Agency Headquarters Hospital said all the three injured were in critical condition. “They were brought to us in a serious condition and had suffered multiple injuries. Also, we do not have any facility here in the hospital to save lives of seriously injured patients. Let alone other facilities, the only X-ray machine at the hospital is also out of order,” the doctor said.

Government officials based in Mir Ali confirmed that the drone had targeted the village mosque. Drones in the past had pounded schools, houses, Hujras and even the tribal Jirgas were not spared, but this was the first time that a mosque was attacked in North Waziristan. This was the 13th drone attack in North Waziristan this year.

May 25, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Pakistani Lawyer Representing Victims of Drone Strikes Prevented From Speaking in U.S.

Center for Constitutional Rights | April 9, 2012

Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar has been invited to speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington DC on April 28, but the U.S. government is failing to grant him a visa.

The Summit is organized by the peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Akbar, co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Rights, is important to the Summit because of his work providing legal aid to victims of CIA-operated drone strikes. Akbar filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members of civilian victims and has been a critical force in litigating and advocating on victims’ behalf.

While Akbar has traveled to the United States in the past, he has not been granted permission to return since becoming an outspoken critic of drone attacks in Pakistan that have killed hundreds of civilians. He was previously invited to speak about drone strikes at Columbia University in New York, but he never received a response to the visa application he filed in May 2011. One year later, he is still waiting for a response, and he has been unable to get an answer from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad as to why his application is being held up.

“Denying a visa to people like me is denying Americans their right to know what the U.S. government and its intelligence community are doing to children, women and other civilians in this part of the world,” Akbar said. “The CIA, which operates the drones in Pakistan, does not want anyone challenging their killing spree. But the American people should have the right to know.”

The CIA’s secret drone program has killed hundreds of people in Pakistan with no due process and no accountability. Akbar represents families whose innocent loved ones have been killed and maimed in these drone attacks.

“Shahzad is the voice for these poor tribal people who have had no recourse,” said CODEPINK co-director Medea Benjamin. “It’s outrageous that our government is trying to keep him from speaking at the Drone Summit.”

“The Obama administration has already launched six times as many drone strikes as the Bush administration in Pakistan alone, killing hundreds of innocent people and devastating families,” said Leili Kashani, Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “By refusing to grant Shahzad Akbar a visa to speak about this abhorrent reality in the United States, the Obama administration is further silencing discussion about the impact of its targeted killing program on people in Pakistan and around the world.”

The Drone Summit’s organizers vow to keep pressuring the U.S. government to grant Akbar a visa.

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment