U.S. Murders at Least Eight Pakistani
School Children with Missile Attack

U.S. missiles hit Pakistan school

BBC
October 23, 2008


A suspected US missile strike has killed at least eight students at a religious school in north-western Pakistan, witnesses say.

The school, in North Waziristan, is close to the residence of a fugitive Taleban leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, witnesses told the BBC Urdu Service.

At least two missiles, reportedly fired by pilotless US drones, hit the school early on Thursday [October 23, 2008].

The Pakistani army is investigating the incident. The US has made no comment.

The attack comes hours after the Pakistani parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the government to defend its sovereignty and expel foreign fighters from the region.

The resolution also called upon the government to prevent the use of Pakistani territory for attacks on another country.

There have been persistent US accusations that Pakistan is not doing enough to eliminate Taleban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries in the border region.

Growing tension

Witnesses told the BBC that the missiles destroyed nearly half of the school building in the Dande Darpakhel area near Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region.

At least six people were injured in the attack, witnesses say. It is still not clear whether there were any foreign fighters among the dead students or whether it is linked to Mr Haqqani or his son, Sirajuddin.

Local people have said that most of the injured were local students at the seminary.

Some madrassas in Pakistan have been accused of promoting militancy.

The residential complex of Jalaluddin Haqqani was targeted in a missile attack in September. At least 14 people were killed and 15 injured.

Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters use North Waziristan and other tribal areas to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

Foreign fighters from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East are all thought to be based there.

In recent weeks the United States has launched many missile strikes against suspected militant targets in the Afghan border region.

Washington says the strikes are used against militant targets, but correspondents say that intelligence failures have sometimes led to civilian casualties.

Figures compiled by the BBC Urdu service show that some 80 people have been killed in a number of suspected US missile strikes in South and North Waziristan region over the past month.

Earlier in October a suspected pilotless American drone fired missiles in North Waziristan, killing at least six people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The United States rarely confirms or denies such attacks.

Tensions between the US and Pakistan have increased over the issue of cross-border incursions against militants by American forces based in Afghanistan.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will not tolerate violations of his country's territory.

The US state department has affirmed "its support for Pakistan's sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity".

 

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