Ishtiaq Mahsud / Associated Press – 2008-10-28 19:50:04
DERA ISMAIL KHAN (October 28, 2008) — Hours after suspected US missiles killed several people at the house of a Taliban commander near the Afghanistan border, Pakistani lawmakers condemned American drone attacks, saying they cause “immense” loss of life and are undermining that nation’s efforts to defuse militancy through dialogue.
The condemnation of the US attacks came in a resolution adopted Monday by Pakistani senators. The government should take “more effective measures” to stop such attacks, it said, without recommending any specific action beyond official protests to Washington and NATO.
The deadly attack was on the house of a Taliban commander near the Afghanistan border on Monday, the latest volley in a two-month onslaught on militant bases inside Pakistan, officials said.
Missile attacks have killed at least two senior al Qaeda commanders in Pakistan’s wild border zone this year, putting some pressure on extremist groups accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan — and perhaps terror strikes in the West.
However, a marked uptick in their frequency has badly strained America’s seven-year alliance with Pakistan, where rising violence is exacerbating economic problems gnawing at the nuclear-armed Islamic republic’s stability.
The reported missile strike occurred in South Waziristan, part of a belt of tribally governed territory considered a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Two intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media on the record, said the targeted house in Mandata Raghzai village belonged to a lieutenant of local Taliban chief Maulvi Nazir.
The officials cited reports from agents and informers in the area. They said the identity of as many as 20 bodies pulled from the rubble was not immediately clear.
Mohammad Noor Wazir a resident of a nearby village, said he watched from a distance as militants surrounded the scene and loaded at least 15 corpses into vehicles that drove away.
Three other victims were buried in the village cemetery, including a brother of the owner of the destroyed house, Wazir told the Associated Press by telephone.
American commanders complain that Pakistani forces have not put enough pressure on militant strongholds on their territory.
In a reflection of that frustration, US military and CIA drones that patrol the frontier region are believed to have carried out at least 15 strikes since mid-August. The United States rarely confirms or denies involvement.
Pakistan’s new leaders have protested the missile strikes — as well as a highly unusual raid by helicopter-borne commandos in September — as unacceptable violations of their sovereignty.
In other violence on Monday, a car bomb exploded in a parking lot in the frontier city of Quetta, killing a rickshaw driver and another unidentified person and injuring 10 others, while the army said it killed 10 militants in the troubled Swat Valley.
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