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'Lethal drone strikes in Pak tribal region fuelling massive spurt in assassinations'

By Manoj Kumar Ramesh

Peshawar, Dec 24 (ANI): The massive escalation in CIA drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal region has also seen an unprecedented rise in assassinations there.

According to local tribesmen, as often as seven times a week, corpses appear in fields and on roadsides, with dark warnings pinned to their tunics: All American spies will meet the same fate, The Washington Post reports.

Espionage has long been viewed as an egregious offence in the lawless borderland, but residents say the current pace of assassinations is unprecedented, the paper said.

CIA drones have fired 112 missiles on Pakistan's tribal areas this year, 88 percent of which hit North Waziristan, it added.

According to the paper, tribesmen say that the US drone campaign has far-reaching consequences for the way of life in North Waziristan, and provoked cycles of violence that, once in motion, are difficult to predict and impossible to control.

In recent interviews, Pakistani security officials said that the strikes were increasingly efficient in hitting militant targets, but an intelligence official derided the CIA as "trigger-happy"- an assessment that was echoed by several tribesmen, the paper said.

The intelligence official said that 70 informants for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which provides intelligence to the CIA for drone strikes, have been assassinated in North Waziristan since 2004, making the area nearly a "black hole" for spies today, the paper added.

"They are out to kill us," the intelligence official said, adding, "That puts the fear of God into people who may want to work for us."

In interviews, North Waziristan tribesmen said that the fear now extends to the general population, the paper said. According to residents' accounts, at least 30 corpses have turned up during the past three months outside towns in the area.

Pakistani officials said that the assassinations could be viewed as a sign that the Taliban and other insurgents feel threatened by drones, the paper added.

"The militants are desperate," said a 38-year-old Miranshah teacher, adding that residents pray that drones hit their targets, not just to kill militants, but also to save others from retaliation.

"If the drone misses the target, then this will be unfortunate for us," the teacher added. (ANI)

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