Islamabad lodges protest after US strike kills four Pak civilians

March 13th, 2008 - 7:56 pm ICT by admin  

Pervez Musharraf

Peshawar, Mar 13 (ANI): Pakistan lodged a protest with coalition forces in Afghanistan on Thursday after two Pakistani women and two children were killed by US fire from across the border, the army said.

The US-led coalition confirmed that it had launched a “precision guided” strike on Pakistani territory but said it targeted a militant compound.

The issue of foreign military intervention in Pakistan is sensitive, with President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally, saying earlier this year that unauthorised actions would be treated as an invasion.

Pakistans military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said coalition artillery fire destroyed the victims’ house in the troubled tribal region of North Waziristan, an alleged haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

“The coalition forces were firing at a group of militants when five shells landed in Pakistan, destroying a house and killing two women and two children,” Abbas said.

“We have lodged a very strong protest with the coalition forces across the border,” he added.

Local officials said the house in the town of Lwara Mundi, a hotbed of militancy on the frontier where there have been frequent clashes between security forces and militants, belonged to a local tribesman.

In Kabul, a spokesman for the US-led coalition said it could not comment directly on the Pakistani account but confirmed it had launched a strike on the other side of the porous 1,500-mile (2,500-kilometre) frontier.

“We can confirm a precision-guided ammunition strike on March 12 on a compound connected with Haqqani network 1.5 kilometres (about a mile) across the border in Pakistan,” coalition spokesman Major Chris Belcher said.

The Haqqani network refers to Islamist militants led by Taliban commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is allegedly based in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.

“I do not have any information on any casualties that may have occurred,” the spokesman said.

“The information I have is that the Government of Pakistan was notified immediately following the strike,” The News quoted Belcher, as saying.

“It is not the first time that they (coalition forces) have had to respond to an imminent threat across the border in Pakistan. Every time we do, we clear that with Pakistani authorities,” he added. (ANI)

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