Missile attack in northwestern tribal Pakistan kills 21

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Islamabad, Oct 4 (UNI) Twenty one people, including two women and a child, were killed last night in a missile attack on a village in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.

According to local people, the missile was fired from a Predator drone which hit a house in the village, some 15 km west of Miramshah.

However, sources denied that any NATO drone had carried out the attack inside Pakistan territory.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had informed Pakistan it would be conducting an operation across the border from North Waziristan.

''The ISAF informed us at around 1600 hrs (local time) that they were conducting an operation in Afghanistan, across from North Waziristan,'' he said, denying any violation, incursion or intrusion on the Pakistan side.

The latest violation followed US President George W Bush's assurance to his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari during a recent meeting in New York that Washington would respect Pakistan's sovereignty.

More than 40 people have been killed in a series of missile strikes by US drones on Pakistani tribal regions during the last one month.

In strong-worded statements early last month, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have made it clear to the US that Pakistan reserved the right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The statements came after a visit by US chairman joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen to Pakistan.

However, the fresh missile strike on North Waziristan tribal region killing 21 people, negated reiteration of respect to Pakistan's sovereignty by top US leaders.

The names and nationalities of those killed could not be ascertained, local officials said.

A house belonging to Afghan nationals Wazir Jan and Abdur Rehman near a school was destroyed in the attack.

According to media reports, some 16 Al Qaeda-related Arab militants were killed in the attack. However, there was no immediate confirmation from the Pakistani military or from the US-led coalition in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, an unmanned plane had fired four missiles in Khushali Toorikhel area in the Mirali tehsil, killing eight people.

Most of the dead were from West Asia and Central Asian states, sources said.

They said the missile attack was carried out at about 2330 hrs and the house of one Dossel was targeted.


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