Friday, September 05, 2008

Pakistani parliament condemns US-led attack

Source: Netscape Celebrity

By NAHAL TOOSI

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Parliament passed resolutions Thursday condemning an American-led attack in Pakistani territory after the government summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest the unusually bold raid that officials say killed at least 15 people.

The criticism grew two days before Asif Ali Zardari is expected to be chosen as president in a vote by legislators. A spokesman said Zardari condemned Wednesday’s pre-dawn assault in the South Waziristan tribal region - the first known foreign ground assault in Pakistan against a Taliban haven. But Zardari also said Pakistan stands with the U.S. against international terrorism.

Zardari, widower of former premier Benazir Bhutto, is expected to pursue a pro-U.S. policy similar to that of former President Pervez Musharraf and continue to go after Islamic militants accused of crossing into Afghanistan to attack the U.S.-led international security force there.

An American official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of cross-border operations, confirmed to The Associated Press that U.S. troops conducted the raid about a mile from the Afghan border.

It was unclear whether any extremist leader was killed or captured. Pakistan’s border region is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi condemned the attack, saying “no important terrorist or high-value target” was killed.

“Innocent citizens, including women and children, have been targeted,” Qureshi said. The ministry’s spokesman said officials had no indication that U.S. forces had captured anyone.

Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, citing witness and intelligence reports, said troops flew in on at least one big CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter, blasted their way into several houses and gunned down men they found there.

Army and intelligence officials as well as residents said 15 people died, while the provincial governor said 20 civilians, including women and children, were killed.

Pakistan’s Senate and National Assembly passed resolutions Thursday condemning the attack.

In the past, similar protests over suspected U.S. missile attacks in Pakistani territory have led to little tangible effect on America’s relationship with Pakistan, which has received billions of dollars from Washington for its aid in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Still, the operation in South Waziristan’s Angoor Ada area threatened to complicate an already difficult relationship.

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