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Prez to address nation over US airstrike

So far Musharraf has made little comment on the furore caused by the attack, said to have been conducted by CIA-operated aircraft.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 16:06 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf will address the nation on state television at 8.00 pm on Tuesday, officials said, with a storm of protest still to die down over last week's US airstrike on Pakistani territory.

So far the president has made little comment on the furore caused by the attack, said to have been conducted by CIA-operated Predator drone aircraft that killed at least 18 people in a village close to the Afghan border last Friday.

Officials would not say what Musharraf's address would focus on, though Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has also scheduled a news conference two hours before the president is due to speak.

Pakistan, a key US ally in the war on terrorism, has already lodged a protest with U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker over the attack and loss of life.

There have been nationwide protests, although few have been sizable by Pakistani standards.

Parliament is expected to debate the issue, and both the Islamist opposition and pro-government parties have spoken out against the US action.

US intelligence officials say orders for the air strike were given based on information that Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri had been in Dalamoda village, in Bajaur tribal agency.

Pakistani officials say Osama bin Laden's deputy was not there.

While US officials privately accept that chances of Zawahri being among the dead have dwindled they are clinging to hopes that the attack eliminated other leading figures in Al-Qaeda.

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 15:33 IST