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WAPDA’s survey drones whip up fear

DERA ISMAIL KHAN:

In some parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) drone means collateral damage and deaths of innocent people, so it is no wonder that the people of Domail in the former Frontier Region (FR) of Bannu on Wednesday took their guns and started firing at a drone loitering in the area for hours.
The drone was surveying the geography but they mistake every drone for the American Predator. And their fears are not without foundation as on December 3, 2007 a Predator drone targeted a house in the Jani Khel region, Bannu. This strike killed an important al-Qaeda leader.
The area is also no stranger to suicide bombing and roadside IED attacks and the adjacent Waziristan too is well-known for drone attacks targeting al-Qaeda fugitives.
The firing from several houses forced the police and authorities to make announcements that drones flying in the locality are civilian ones and there is no need to panic. It also asked people not to fire at these drones as they are involved in surveying for the development projects in the region.
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“On Tuesday and Wednesday small drones were spotted flying in Domail and other parts of former FR Bannu and people were quick to conclude that these drones were taking pictures of the houses or spying on them and they started firing at them,” said a police official while talking to The Express Tribune.
“Our men accompanied the teams operating these drones. They use small rechargeable drones which can only fly for two or three hours at a time and their operators control them from a nearby ground control station,” he said, saying that they are trying to explain it to the local residents so that the misunderstanding is cleared.
“Actually WAPDA is engaged in a survey for the construction of a canal in the area which will ultimately benefit these parts of the former FATA,” he said.
When approached, Chief Engineer and Project Director Kurram Tangi Dam Project, Muhammad Shafiq Bhettani said that a survey was being conducted for Kurram Tangi Dam Project and they were surveying the area for the construction of a canal for which drones are being used.
“These are civilian drones with limited endurance of just a few hours and our teams also go to the area,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2021.

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