General: Most drone victims are terrorists

March 9, 2011 at 11:06 PM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 9 (UPI) -- A Pakistani general says most of those killed in suspected U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists, local media report.

"Myths and rumors 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," Maj. Gen. Ghayur Mehmood, commanding general officer of the Seventh Division in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, said in a briefing in the region's capital of Miramshah, Dawn reported.

"Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements," he said.

Dawn quoted the military's Seventh Division's official paper as saying there have been about 164 predator strikes in which more than 964 terrorists had been killed since 2007. O those killed, 793 were locals and 171 foreigners, the report said

The general said the negative fallout from the drone strikes is that they scare and displace local populations, Dawn reported.

The New York Times said the controversial drone strikes are seen as a major reason for the rise of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. The Times said Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, in an interview, called the general's remarks a "personal assessment" that had been given without proper context.

Abbas said the army supported the government's policy that the drone strikes "do more harm than good."

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