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US border agency grounds fleet after drone crashes

US Customs and Border Protection has grounded its drone fleet after a crew was forced to crash a pilotless craft off the coast of southern California, a spokesman said.

The crew operating the malfunctioning drone deliberately downed it in the Pacific Ocean last night after a mechanical problem.

The drone and systems on board were worth $12 million (£7.2m), the official said.

Hammond: Never 100% sure there won't be casualties

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told ITV News' Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship that "you can never be 100% sure there won't be collateral damage", as the RAF unveiled its nerve centre of a controversial drone programme for the first time today.

Mr Hammond added: "We only know of one strike where there were civilian casualties. But of course, civilian casualties have also resulted from strikes by manned aircrafts. That is the nature of warfare".

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'No difference' between operating drones and planes

RAF Wing Cdr Damian Killeen, the commanding officer of 13 Squadron has told ITV News that there is "absolutely no difference" between operating a drone and flying an aircraft in Afghanistan, as the RAF unveiled the nerve centre of its controversial drone programme for the first time.

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US and Yemen 'silent' on drone strikes

The six targeted killings in Yemen that Human Rights Watch says the US carried out Credit: Human Rights Watch

The US government only acknowledges its role in targeted killings in general terms, refusing to take responsibility for individual strikes or provide casualty figures, including civilian deaths, Human Rights Watch said in their report on drone attacks in Yemen

The Yemeni authorities have been almost as silent, the rights organisation said. Both governments have declined to comment on the six strikes that Human Rights Watch investigated.

Map details Pakistan drone attacks

The use of unmanned aircraft is a controversial human rights issue. Credit: Amnesty International

An interactive map published by Amnesty International details recent drone attacks the human rights organisation says the US carried out in northwest Pakistan.

Amnesty International found evidence that a number of civilians, including an elderly woman and a group of young labourers, were killed in drone strikes in North Waziristan between January 2012 and August this year.

Drone attacks 'in clear violation of the laws of war'

Researchers from Human Rights Watch have called on the US to assess the impact of drone attacks in Yemen, which they say are in "clear violation of the laws of war."

The calls come as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released two reports investigating who died as a result of the attacks in Yemen and Pakistan.

Read: US accused of war crimes in major drone study

The US says it is taking all possible precautions during targeted killings, but it has unlawfully killed civilians and struck questionable military targets in Yemen.

Yemenis told us that these strikes make them fear the US as much as they fear al-Qaeda.

The US should investigate attacks that kill civilians and hold those responsible for violations to account. It's long past time for the US to assess the legality of its targeted killings, as well as the broader impact of these strikes on civilians.

– Letta Tayler, researcher Human Rights Watch

'70% of drone strike victims civilian' major study reveals

Human Rights Watch are calling for the US government to assess the legality of drone strikes in Yemen, after their study of six such attacks found that the majority of those killed were civilians.

Hussain Jamil al-Qawli holds a picture of his 20-year-old son killed, and Muhammad al-Qawli holds a picture of his brother Ali. Credit: Letta Tayler/Human Rights Watch

The strikes investigated by the rights group, between 2012 and 2013, found at least 57 of the 82 people killed were civilians; equivalent to 70% of the casualties.

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