The CIA received approval to target a wider range of targets in Pakistan's tribal areas, including "low-level fighters" even their identities may not be known, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The expanded strikes began under President George W. Bush and have accelerated under President Barack Obama, Reuters said.
The announcement comes as more than 850 people, mostly civilians, have been reported killed in nearly 100 raids by American pilotless planes since August 2008.
In 2009, the CIA launched 44 strikes in North and South Waziristan but managed to kill no more than a handful of notable militants, Anti-War.com reported on its January 14th edition.
Current and former officials said government lawyers backed expansion of the "target set" for CIA drone strikes on so-called self-defense grounds based on the threat the fighters pose to U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the United States as a whole.
But the numbers show that more than 90 per cent of the 500 people killed by drones since mid-2008 are lower-level fighters, raising questions about how much the CIA knows about the targets, experts said.
The critics say the strikes on Pakistan were random. But the counterterrorism official denied.
Obama said earlier what he called the need to "take out high-level terrorist targets".
"Targets are chosen with extreme care, factoring in concepts like necessity, proportionality, and an absolute obligation to minimize loss of innocent life and property damage," a U.S. counterterrorism official said.
Some critics say the expanded CIA strikes raise legal as well as security concerns amid signs the suspect behind Saturday's attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square had ties to the Pakistani Taliban movement, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.
Pakistan has expressed concern that the U.S. strikes anger the public and undermine its campaign against the Pakistani Taliban.
Islamabad have complained about pilotless drones have killed dozens of civilians officially, saying they are a violation of its sovereignty and fuel anti-U.S. feeling.
Unofficially, however, analysts say Pakistan is cooperating with the United States in identifying at least some targets the drones attack.
AgenciesLast Mod: 07 Mayıs 2010, 12:56