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U.S. Pays $1.2m In Landmark Payment To Drone Victim In Pakistan

FILE: A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.
FILE: A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.

The U.S. government has paid $1.2 million to the family of an Italian aid worker killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in a landmark deal.

It is believed to be the first payment of its kind by Washington to the family of a drone strike victim killed outside an official warzone.

Giovanni Lo Porto, 37, was killed while being held hostage by Al-Qaeda in January 2015. American aid worker Warren Weinstein, 73, was also killed in the drone strike.

The U.S. government has offered condolence payments to the families of civilian casualties of air strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the Lo Porto payment is different because he was killed in Pakistan and because there was an official apology and acknowledgement from Washington.

The payment was confirmed by the White House. It was unclear whether the Weinstein family also received payment.

The payment to Lo Porto's family was considered a "donation in the memory of Giovanni Lo Porto."

Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama admitted that Lo Porto and Weinstein were accidentally killed in a secret counterterrorism mission and expressed his regret for the deaths. It was announced that compensation would be paid to the families.

The operation had targeted an Al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

Ahmed Farouq, a U.S. citizen who had become an Al-Qaeda leader, was killed in the same operation. Another U.S. citizen turned Al-Qaeda terrorist, Adam Gadahn, was killed in a separate operation in January.

Weinstein was a business development expert working in Pakistan on a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

He was snatched from his home in Lahore on August 13, 2011, shortly before he was due to return home after seven years working in Pakistan.

Lo Porto disappeared in January 2012 in Pakistan. He had worked for an international aid group called Welthungerhilfe.

With reporting by BBC and The Guardian