October 5th, 2010
05:28 PM ET

Source: Drone strikes rise but civilian toll limited

WASHINGTON  — The stepped up missile strikes by the CIA in Pakistan last month resulted in no civilian deaths, according to a knowledgeable U.S. source.

 The source said so far this year, there have been approximately 500 individuals killed by missiles fired from pilotless planes at suspected terrorists or other extremists operating out of the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, less than 10 of those victims were non-combatants.

 Those figures do not jibe with the numbers logged by an independent Washington think tank. The New America Foundation which keeps track of the drone campaign, indicates a total of between 409 and 685 deaths from the CIA attacks in 2010, with somewhere between 26 to 60 of those individuals being civilians. The group bases its figures on the reports from major western newspaper and broadcast reports and the leading English language media in Pakistan.

The civilian death toll from the controversial missile strikes has angered Pakistanis.

Although the CIA never comments on the unmanned aerial campaign, a U.S. official who did not want to be named said the U.S. avoids civilian casualties.

 "This weapon system exhibits precision unsurpassed in the history of warfare," said the official.

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