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Pak denounces US drone strike

Pakistan reacted strongly to an American drone attack in North Waziristan which killed 40 people by announcing on Friday that it would pull out of its strategic dialogue with the US and Afghanistan. Imtiaz Ahmad reports.

world Updated: Mar 19, 2011 00:02 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

Pakistan reacted strongly to an American drone attack in North Waziristan which killed 40 people by announcing on Friday that it would pull out of its strategic dialogue with the US and Afghanistan. Earlier in the day, Pakistan foreign office lodged a protest with US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, and demanded an apology.

Thursday's attack is the deadliest drone strike in the country since 2006 and came one day after the release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis from a Lahore jail under after an understanding was reached in which blood money was paid for his release.

Meanwhile, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) confirmed that its members were in a meeting with elders of the area and were targeted in the drone attack. Apart from 12 TTP members, the rest were not aligned to it, the TTP said. The attack, which took place on Thursday, drew fire from not only the Pakistani political leadership but also from the army chief, who said in a rare public statement, that such attacks were unacceptable.

Locals said that the attack occurred in the Nayya Adda area of Datta Khel tehsil. Another strike occurred some 40 kilometres west of the agency headquarters Miramshah, injured 15 people.

Datta Khel is one of the most targeted areas in the CIA's air campaign in Pakistan. At least 120 out of 127 drone attacks carried out during the past year were carried out in North Waziristan Agency, with most of them in Datta Khel tehsil. This year, eight of the 19 strikes in Pakistan have taken place in Datta Khel.

Earlier this month, the Pakistan Army told select media sources that drone attacks were effective and the army chief had privately endorsed them. But on Thursday, it is believed that members of the Haqqani network were targeted, which are seen to be close to the ISI. For the military leadership, this was unacceptable, they said.

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