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At least five killed in suspected US airstrike

Latest update : 2008-09-05

Three children and two women were killed when a suspected unmanned US aircraft fired missiles at a Pakistani tribal village on Friday, officials said.



MIRANSHAH, Pakistan - At least five people were killed
on Friday in a missile attack by a suspected U.S. drone
in Pakistan's North Waziristan region, in a stepped up
campaign against militants near the Afghan border.
 

U.S.-controlled Predator aircraft have struck several sites
used by al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan this year, most
recently on Thursday when four low-level al Qaeda-linked
militants were killed in the same region, security officials
said.
 

The Friday attack was on a house in the Guvrek area, near
the border with Afghanistan.
 

"Two drones were flying in the area. They fired three
missiles," said a witness who declined to be identified.
 

An intelligence official said five militants were killed
while another said the the toll could rise. It was not
immediately known if any senior al Qaeda figures were among the
casualties.
 

Another intelligence official, however, said those killed
were civilians including four children and a woman.
 

On Wednesday, U.S. forces carried out a pre-dawn
helicopter-borne ground assault on the village of Angor Adda in
the nearby South Waziristan in the first known incursion into
Pakistan by U.S.-led troops since the 2001 invasion of
Afghanistan.
 

Officials said 20 people, including women and children,
were killed in the attack which sparked fury in Pakistan.
 

Pakistan is a staunch ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism
but rules out encroachment by foreign troops onto its
terrority.
 

It condemned the Wednesday attack and summoned the U.S.
ambassador to lodge a protest. Parliament called for border
raids to be repulsed.
 

COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE
 

General Tariq Majid, chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of
Staff Committee, said cross-border strikes such as the one on
Wednesday would alienate ethnic Pashtuns, who live on both
sides of the border, and be counter-productive.
 

"Pakistan reserves the right to appropriately retaliate,"
he told visiting German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung.
 

The anger over U.S. attacks comes in the run-up to a
presidential election.
 

Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime
minister Benazir Bhutto, looks set to become president on
Saturday in an election by legislators to chose a replacement
for Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month.
 

Zardari is seen as close to the United States but the anger
over U.S. strikes is not expected to hurt his chances of
victory.
 

However, ordinary Pakistanis, many of whom harbour
anti-American feelings, will be expecting him to take a stand
against the U.S. attacks.
 

Washington says al Qaeda and Taliban militants lurk in
sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal areas
on the Afghan border, where they orchestrate attacks in
Afghanistan and Pakistan and plot violence in the West.

Date created : 2008-09-05

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