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US must not repeat airstrike: Pak

President General Pervez Musharraf's remarks on Saturday were his first publicized reaction to the January 13 strike on Damadola village.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 16:15 IST

Pakistan's president told the United States it must not repeat airstrikes like the one that killed civilians in a remote mountain village, as officials sought to soothe public outrage over the incident.

President General Pervez Musharraf's remarks on Saturday were his first publicized reaction to the January 13 strike on Damadola village, an attack that has spurred nationwide protests against the United States in this Muslim-dominated nation of 130 million people. The strike apparently targeted -- but missed -- Al-Qaeda's No 2 leader in the mountainous region of Bajur. Pakistani officials believe the blast wiped out four other top Al-Qaeda operatives, but also killed least 13 civilians, including women and children. On Saturday, Musharraf told visiting US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns that "what happened in Bajur must not be repeated," a Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk on the record.

Pakistan's independent GEO television reported that Musharraf also told Burns his country is "fully capable of defending its frontiers" and that repeated attacks could affect cooperation in the war on terror, in which Islamabad is a top US ally. The Foreign Ministry official said, however, that Musharraf pledged to continue backing the United States in anti-terror efforts.

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 08:20 IST