Obama confirms Pakistan drone strikes

January 31st, 2012 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, Jan 31 (IANS) Unmanned drones regularly strike suspected militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, US President Barack Obama confirmed during a video “hangout” on Google’s social network Google+ that was also streamed live on YouTube.

Use of the unmanned drones began under former president George W. Bush, BBC reported.

There were 118 drone attacks in 2010 and 70 in 2011, according to the New America Foundation. Top militants believed killed by drones include former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud and Al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri.

Obama, during the hour-long video Monday evening, termed the strikes a “targeted focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists”.

Asked about the use of drone strikes, which have increased in intensity during his presidency, Obama said a lot of strikes have taken place in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The strikes target “Al Qaeda suspects who are up in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan”, he said.

“For us to be able to get them in another way would involve probably a lot more intrusive military action than the ones we’re already engaging in,” he said.

The strikes have caused outrage in Pakistan, where people say the attacks cause indiscriminate civilian deaths and injuries.

Obama also said it was tough being president.

“Look, this is the greatest job on Earth, and it’s such an honour to serve, but it is true sometimes, you get a little stir crazy.”

“One of the things I look forward to after I’ve had this extraordinary honour is just taking a walk or waking up on Saturday morning, not shaving and going to the local Starbucks and not having to worry about it,” he was quoted as saying by CNN.

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