“Witnessing a drone hovering over Waziristan skies is a regular thing,” says Noor Behram, who shot this image outside his house in Dande Darpa Khel, North Waziristan.
For more than five years, Behram has been documenting the aftermath of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the hub of the CIA’s remote assassination program. When Behram learns of a strike, he races towards ground zero to photograph the scene. “North Waziristan,” he explained “is a big area scattered over hundreds of miles and some places are harder to reach due to lack of roads and access. At many places I will only be able to reach the scene after 6-8 hours.” Nonetheless, Behram’s photographs are some of the only on-the-ground images of drone attacks.
“[Thefew places where I have been able to reach right after the attack were a terrible sight” he explains, “One such place was filled with human body parts lying around and a strong smell of burnt human flesh. Poverty and the meagre living standards of inhabitants is another common thing at the attack sites.” Behram’s photographs tell a different story than official American reports that consistently deny civilian casualties from drone attacks: “I have come across some horrendous visions where human body parts would be scattered around without distinction, those of children, women, and elderly.”
For Behram, this particular photograph is nothing exceptional. “This was like any other day in Waziristan. Coming out of the house, witnessing a drone in the sky, getting along with our lives till it targets you. That day it was in the morning and I was at my home playing with my children. I spotted the drone and started filming it with my camera and then I followed it a bit on a bike.”