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Christmas Truce Over: Drone Strikes Continue in Pakistan

The Christmas drone truce in Pakistan has ended. Last night, the US launched a drone strike in North Waziristan, site of many of the drone attacks over the past several years. Four purported militants have been pronounced dead.

An American drone strike killed four Islamist militants in Pakistan, the first such attack since errant U.S airstrikes in November killed two dozen Pakistan troops and pushed strained ties between the two nations close to collapse, Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday.

The attack Tuesday took place in North Waziristan, an al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold close to the Afghan border that has been pounded by U.S. strikes, the officials said. Three of the dead were Arab fighters, said the officials, who didn’t give their names because they were not allowed to be named in the media.

The late-night missile launch broke the longest pause between strikes since the drone program began in earnest in 2009.

It appears that the drones were launched from Afghanistan bases, since the Pakistani government has banned drone strikes from their home soil.

The resumption of drone attacks adds further uncertainty into an already unstable situation in Pakistan. The Prime Minister just fired his Defense Secretary, increasing tensions with the Pakistani Army. Why you would want to add drone strikes into a tinderbox like this doesn’t make sense to me.

But we can put one theory to bed. There was a notion that the CIA stopped the drone strikes because of fears that they were counter-productive, that they created more insurgents and militants than they killed. Now we know the truth – the Christmas truce was just a way to calm tensions before the business of extra-judicial killing continued.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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