North Waziristan suffers a fierce bombardment, civilians traumatized by air strikes

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Photos from locals in Waziristan claiming to show child casualties from recent bombardment.

As reports started to emerge yesterday regarding the latest airstrikes by Pakistani jet fighters over North Waziristan, a friend posed the question as to whether this fresh operation was the result of U.S Foreign Ministry envoy’s recent meeting with Pakistan army chief, Staff General Raheel Sharif putting pressure on the military to “do more”to tackle insurgency. Although the intended targets were militants, traumatized civilians had no place to shelter as the region was pounded by helicopter gunships. Drone strikes have also recently restarted following a break in activity during peace talks between the Taliban and government

Pakistan seems to operate a policy of “what the USA wants, the US gets” and launched a series of airstrikes in the early hours of the morning killing both militants and civilians alike. There followed the usual variation and dispute over figures with most mainstream media appearing to take the attitude that where “alleged” insurgents are killed, information from official sources and figures seem to be accepted without question. When its comes to reporting civilians deaths however, those reporting are subjected to what feels like a 10 page questionnaire to prove their numbers.

Today’s latest update from Dawn states,

“at least 73 suspected local and foreign militants were killed in a series of pre-dawn air strikes on hideouts and bases in North Waziristan and in a later clash following an attack on security personnel

An army major and three other security personnel died in the clash.

The targets of the air strikes were strongholds of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (Etim) — a militant outfit comprising largely Turkic-speaking militants from Uzbekistan and Uighurs from China’s north-western autonomous region of Xinjiang, a security official said”

http://www.dawn.com/news/1107868/73-militants-killed-in-air-strikes-clash

When I took to social media on Wednesday to tweet information I had received on civilian casualties, trolls appeared in force insisting that attacks were “precision strikes” and no non- militants had perished. Several communications I received disputed this fact, one came from Abdul Wahan Khan who told me, “my village has been attacked by army jets, 3 people died including two brothers, there was no Taliban died in this attack. In my village Land Muhammad Khel area of North Waziristan these people have died that I mention to you, Ali Zuman and Sher Rehman, two brothers and third one is Sher Daraz Khan…..it is reality.”

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Photo claiming to show digging for bodies, allegedly 27 members of one family killed, one house

Omar Khorasani of Mohmand Agency Teheek -e -Taliban (TTP) stated,

“the deaths of innocent people is increasing in the bombardment of NAPAK army last night according to the fresh reports that in village Musaki more 7 people were recovered from the debris including two women and two children. and this is also latest report that in Mir Ali Bazaar, Haidar Kheil Miranshah and in Miranshah village, Machis (a camp where there are civilian residents) is being pounded by NAPAK army by artillery and targeting innocent people.”

I came under heavy criticism on Twitter from pro-army supporters objecting to my quoting TTP. I explained that as a researcher, I was simply reporting all sides, a process called “triangulation” in social science, a cross verification of sources to increase the validity and credibility of results. We cannot necessarily assume that one side is always right and another always wrong… we must consider a variety of contacts.

Another source, Hariss Ali Akakhail, a local reporter, Conflict Analysis, informed me, “in today’s air-strike (Wednesday) by army gunships at North-Waziristan agency, important T.T.P commander Jihadyar and Sabir are down. A total of 55 men went down in today’s strikes, including 15 civilians.”

There were difficulties for those reporting casualty figures with one freelance journalist stating, “I filed my story at 9 a.m in the morning. I did mention civilian casualties and instantly “men in uniform” had to intervene and asked me to change my stance.. Indeed civilians are killed in today’s air-strike !!!”

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISI) claimed the air attacks were in retaliation for the killing of “a large number of civilians and security forces personnel” by terrorists in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi. However the news of the deaths of non combatant men women and children brought criticism from a number of directions causing the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group to reconsider their non-aggression treaty with the government according to DAWN.

Commander Ahmadullah Ahmadi is reported as saying that the group “cannot remain silent over bombardment on people,” calling it a clear atrocity on the civilians and that the Shura (council) has convened an important meeting to assess the situation and hinted that the peace accord with the government might get revoked.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1107736/hafiz-gul-bahadur-group-reviews-peace-treaty-with-govt

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Photos claiming to show casualties of recent airstrikes

Justice for Pashtuns raised another important question for those in Waziristan…. How do civilian casualties disappear when it’s Pakistan Air force and not American drones that do the killing?” This poignant post appeared on their Facebook page,

“In this short Pashto audio Ilyas Khan from Waziristan could manage to say only this about Pakistan Army’s bombing in Mirali before he broke into tears:

‘The bombardment has been going on since last night. Is this how you shoot the terrorist hideouts, by destroying the people? Run over there and look at their condition. All those lying dead are civilians. They are lying out on the road. They [the army] have closed the road to the public'”

http://www.mashaalradio.org/audio/audio/1142202.html

Journalist Amir Iqbal emailed me his report which highlighted the difficulties of transporting those injured in the jet strikes to hospitals, a nightmare scenario given the current curfew which is also affecting food supplies. In addition there are problems with telephone communication for those needing help (locals say services went down following the military operation) and in verifying the exact numbers of casualties affected. Iqbal quotes a local man, Sheharyar Khan who states, “we have no food available with us and we are not allowed to go out and get some food for our families. Why are they targeting us since we are not responsible for any terrorism in Pakistan …. why not the force targeting Taliban only?”

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Alleged aftermath of recent attacks on Mir Ali bazzar area

Mohammad Younas Afridi, a community worker and radio journalist who originates from the Tribal Areas wrote a poignant message for his followers today, it read,

“Tribal areas need to be heard and protected too. They want to live in peace and harmony, it is really important a strong response arrives from public institutions and from government. They deserve, like everyone in the world a better quality of life, they deserve a future of their children and we all have an obligation not to drop these right demand.

My heart crying to write this story, because this is the story of Tribal areas who live constantly with fear, drops and hopeless every day of their life. They are both VICTIMS and WITNESSES of war they have never asked or wanted.

The most vulnerable part of of the population are those people due to financial problem can’t leave their lands. The population is at its lowest, and children are paying the highest price.”

A tweet has just come in alleging that North Waziristan air strikes continue for a second day though this has been denied by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). Is the latest bombardment the end then for any hope of peace talks continuing in the near future? This would appear to be the case with a rather ominous post from Mr Akakhail indicating that TTP shura is in the process of finalizing the break up of peace talks with the government of Pakistan. One can only shudder as to what tomorrow might bring for those remaining in Waziristan!

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

About Carol Anne Grayson

Blogging for Humanity.... Campaigner/researcher global health/human rights/drones/WOT/insurgency http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/PO/experts/Health_and_Wellbeing.aspx Exec Producer of Oscar nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad, currently filming on drones.
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12 Responses to North Waziristan suffers a fierce bombardment, civilians traumatized by air strikes

  1. Saeed ktk says:

    Oh so sad this is for us what these people think that they would finish Taleban by Bombardment or they are going to bring more people with taleban by doing this ……… i condemn this very much

  2. Ahmed says:

    So sad that Pakistan army is just acting like Bashar’s army bombing and killing its own people. In fact, that is exactly what America wants, a “civil war” in Pakistan.

    • Yes and retaliation attacks for those killed in N Waziristan have been claimed today by Mohmand Taliban “blood for blood”

      MOHMAND TTP… An IED blast hits Pakistan army convoy in the Pandiali region of Mohmand agency this morning, killing 6 soldiers and wounding 1. Another blast hits the house of local Sahwa commander, TTP claims the responsibility for both the attacks.

  3. Aamna H. Fasihi says:

    Horrible indeed. One cannot simply shut his eyes and believe ISPR to the letter that all 60 people killed were ‘suspected’ militants. How long are they going to measure valiant Pashtuns’ courage and patience? Seems like the corrupt US puppets in govt. and establishment want to create another Bangladesh near Durand line.

  4. maratib says:

    Simple Questions from Pakistan’s armed forces
    1. How many times did India use Fighter Jets inside occupied Kashmir to eliminate your proxies?
    2. Where are your fighter jets when US attack helicopters enter Pakistan?

  5. Khan says:

    What were they doing when they were well informed on time to leave this place as Taliban’s, so called Islamic Jihadist basically the killers of the people of our nation rather than doing the real jihad, are being nailed down. All the people were well informed on time to leave and to get registered as IDP’s. Either they were part of Talibans and hence were a part of continuous terrorist attacks on the motherland of Pakistan and the Pakistani people or bunch of idiots who cant understand the information well on time. Though sad to see them in these pics specially the child (May there soul rest in peace) but Carol kindly stop spreading wrong info about the Pak Army and its right to defend. You don’t know any one of them personally, do you? Did you met any one of them, do you even live here to see the real truth / real story? Would appreciate if you could rather focus on what’s happening in Gaza where just a 10 min warning is been given for Bombing a particular place. Besides Gaza needs more Jihadist these days than in any part of the world.
    Thanks.

    • Thanks for your comment please don’t assume who I do and don’t know. Last time I looked Pakistan was allegedly a democracy which is supposed to support freedom of speech. Pakistani journalists tell me they are getting rather tired of being told to “kill” certain stories on IDPs. Lack of information and biased reporting only leads to anger and a feeling of oppression. That in itself can bring about a backlash as we saw during Arab Spring uprisings!

      • Khan says:

        Pakistan is still a democratic country and for surely you and other people here including me have the freedom of speech but unfortunately some parts of your story looks biased and totally against Pak army as if Pak army has took a wrong decision to defend its country whereas the major problem there lying in North Waziristan seems to be doing a perfect job like attacking our airports which in fact affecting the revenue generation and economy, killing civilians all around without any cause, bombing populated areas where families are just entertaining themselves and to bring down the reputation of my country and its defense in the eyes of the world. Do you think States or UK or even India can tolerate this, no way, they cant even think of it (9/11 and here goes a huge civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, how can I forget Libya and Syria at the same time). With your latter part, “Lack of information and biased reporting only leads to anger and a feeling of oppression”, that’s what i am trying to say, you don’t live here though you might be having valid sources of info, agreed, but still you are not facing the same difficulties the people of Pakistan are facing since long and to know the exact cause of everything. Few Pakistani Journalist told you to “kill” the stories and you accepted those facts (Lack of info as you said) but still its again one sided thing. I would rather suggest you to corroborate it further. Besides, killing the stories is what I have observed and learned from the people in Tel Aviv and the people supporting them from Washington. What a players they are, amazing. Anyways, god bless Pakistan and the people of Pakistan, help the righteous whomsoever he / she is and whatever religion that person is having and show the right path who are spreading evil in any part of the world.
        However Carol, thanks for showing concern for the Pakistani People, hope to see your articles, support and the freedom of speech for the betterment of this country soon. Thanks.

  6. drmohsinraza says:

    it is good to read comments from various people

  7. Mohsin Raza says:

    it is not eay to wipe
    terrorism in Pakistan or elsewhere…This is the saddest event which shouldn’t
    have happened.The causes need to be plainly expressed ..My heart terribly weeps
    on the killing of so many school boys…………….As a surgeon I have treated the
    victims of communal riots in India,civil violence in Iran and severe traffic
    injuries on Arab land.I have witnessed thousand times the people crying on the
    death of their near and dear..I, too, cried many times due to my inadequacy to
    be able to save a life or lives.I will never forget an early morning of July
    1983 when I declared 11 dead (Traffic deaths) all under 30 years at Buraimi
    Oman..I was not able to sleep 2 days..How the people react who are seeing 100+ dead
    wrapped in white displayed on the floor beside each other..What a Human carnage
    under the pretext of vengeance..They have already bid farewell to kindness, humanity
    and gratitude. The perpetrators too have their own reason.But their action is
    UNACCEPTABLE.They will not stop,they will perpetuate terror from generation to
    generation under
    the pretext of vengeance.
    Pakistan Govt operates a policy of “what the USA wants, the US gets” .They
    launch series of airstrikes killing both
    militants and civilians alike. There follow the usual dispute over figures of “alleged” militants killed, official information and
    figures are accepted without question. When its comes to reporting
    civilians deaths however, those reporting are subjected to what feels like a 10
    page questionnaire to prove their numbers………………………………………………………………….,,,,,,,,,
    The only solution to stop: Those Civilians whose men women and children have
    been killed in cold blood by Army action,drone strikes and missiles have to be
    sincerely addressed.other wise the terror will increase
    ………………………………………Pakistan has to say farewell to USA or bear with the perpetuated terror
    from generation to generation..

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