US to pay '$1.2m' to Italian family of drone strike victim

Facebook picture of Giovanni Lo Porto Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Lo Porto was killed in a drone strike in January 2015

The US government has agreed to pay €1.1m ($1.2m; £934,000) to the family of an Italian aid worker killed by a drone strike in Pakistan, reports say.

Aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto, 37, was killed while being held hostage by al-Qaeda in 2015.

US aid worker Warren Weinstein, 73, being held with him also died in the operation.

The White House has confirmed that payments were made to both families, without releasing details.

President Barack Obama admitted the deaths in April last year, saying that he profoundly regretted them. It was announced that compensation would be paid to the families.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Warren Weinstein appeared in a video in 2013

Officials said at the time that the operation had targeted an al-Qaeda compound in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that they had believed there were no civilians present.

But according to La Repubblica newspaper (in Italian) and the Guardian newspaper, the agreement states that Mr Lo Porto was killed inside Pakistan.

Important steps: Analysis by Tara McKelvey, BBC News, Washington

US military commanders have long tried to make condolence payments to families of innocent people who've been killed in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Making these payments has been harder when the civilians were killed in drone strikes in Pakistan, Libya and other places where the US is not officially at war, however. The drone strikes themselves were kept secret, and determining whether - or how - to provide money for victims' families has been fraught.

In July, however, President Obama released statistics on civilians killed in airstrikes outside of conventional war zones (official estimates of the dead range from 64 to 116).

And now the families of Giovanni Lo Porto and Warren Weinstein have received a payment. These are important steps for Mr Obama, part of a fitful, halting effort to provide transparency about the government's actions and to do the right thing, even when operating in the shadowy world of targeted killings.

The payment was considered a "donation in memory" of the Italian, La Repubblica says.

Mr Lo Porto had disappeared from Multan, Pakistan, in January 2012 but little is known about what happened then. He had worked for an international aid group called Welthungerhilfe.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption As commander-in-chief, Mr Obama said in April 2015 he took "full responsibility" for the operation

Mr Weinstein, a development worker, was kidnapped from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011. He had lived in Pakistan for seven years, working on economic development projects.

The strike also killed American Ahmed Farouq, described as an al-Qaeda leader.

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