Pak Army protests US drone attack in Bajaur

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Islamabad, May 17 : The Pakistan Army has lodged a formal protest to "allied forces" in Afghanistan over a suspected US missile strike this week that killed 14 people in Bajaur Agency.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Major-General, Athar Abbas, said Pakistan concluded that drones from Afghanistan launched Wednesday's attack on a house in Damadola village.

Abbas said a formal protest was lodged on Friday with "allied forces" in Afghanistan, an apparent reference to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force that is fighting the Taliban-led insurgency there.

He said 14 people died in the attack. It was unclear if any foreign militants were killed because local tribesmen had sealed off the area in the aftermath and buried the victims, Abbas added.

It was the first such strike since Pakistan's new civilian government took power six weeks ago. The government's response so far has been low-key, suggesting it may be extending the kind of cooperation to the US-led fight against al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, US officials in Washington said the Predator strike on Wednesday killed a handful of al-Qaeda militants, including one they described as a "significant leader".

The strike indicated that the CIA retained some freedom to operate in the tribal areas. But as the gap between Pakistani and American policies widens, US officials are pushing harder for still more latitude, reported the New York Times.

On Wednesday night, the US fired its fourth Predator missile strike since January, the most visible symbol of the American push for a freer hand to pursue militants from al-Qaeda and the Taliban who are using Pakistan's tribal areas as a base to attack Afghanistan and plot terrorist attacks abroad.

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