US aerial attack kills 13 in Pakistan (Lead)

October 4th, 2008 - 1:36 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Oct 3 (DPA) At least 13 people, including two women and a child, were killed and 10 injured Friday as a US drone attacked a house in Pakistan’s tribal area along the Afghan border, officials said.A security official said a pilotless US drone fired two missiles at a house in Mohmmad Khel village in North Waziristan.

The compound that was demolished in the strike belonged to an Afghan refugee, who is believed to regularly host insurgents launching cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

More casualties were feared as some people were buried under the rubble, the official said on condition of anonymity.

However, a spokesman from the Pakistan Army denied the report saying the US planes only hit targets on Afghan side of the border.

“The International Security Assistance Force had informed us beforehand about their operation along the border in Afghanistan,” Major General Athar Abbas said.

The US attack came three days after two missiles fired from a US drone killed six people in North Waziristan, which is regarded as a haven for Taliban militants and members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Having complained about Islamabad’s inability to eliminate the hideouts of the Taliban, US forces have stepped up strikes inside Pakistan, causing tension between the two countries.

Pakistani and US forces have officially admitted an exchange of fire at least once in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Thursday that the US “has to respect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan as an independent country. Nobody is allowed to violate the sovereignty of Pakistan.”

Islamabad says it has deployed around 120,000 troops along the Afghan border to try and quell the Taliban insurgency in various areas, including Bajaur Agency, where between 500 and 1,000 Taliban fighters have been killed in the offensive that started in August.

On Friday, fortified militant positions and hideouts were targeted around Loi Sam area with helicopter gunships and artillery fire, the army’s deputy spokesman, Major Murad Khan, said.

“Seven miscreants were killed and numerous were injured,” Khan said.

The militants have responded to the operation with more suicide and other attacks across the country.

A suicide truck bombing hit Islamabad’s Marriott hotel last month, leaving at least 53 people, including the Czech ambassador, two US marines and a Danish intelligence officer.

More than 250 people were injured in the attack, which caused panic among Westerners in the country.

The British embassy and UN mission raised security levels for their foreign staff and ordered the evacuation of their children this week.

A Poland-based oil firm, Geofizyka Krakow Ltd, working in central Punjab province repatriated its 11 employees after a Polish electrician was kidnapped and his two guards killed Sep 27.

An official from the firm told DPA Friday on condition of anonymity that nine remaining Polish employees would also leave the country soon.

The Pakistani authorities have confirmed that Peter Stanczak was in Taliban custody, a spokesman for the Polish foreign ministry said.

The ministry “got an assurance that Pakistani forces are leading an intensive effort to free our citizen,” a statement from spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said.

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