Pakistan protesters slam US drone attacks

2011-01-21 18:30

Miranshah - Hundreds of Pakistani tribesmen on Friday rallied to demand an end to US drone attacks which they said were killing innocent people in the tribal areas, witnesses said.

More than 1 000 protesters staged the demonstration in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan district, shouting slogans against the United States and its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), responsible for the missile attacks.

"Killer, killer, CIA killer", "Stop drone attacks" and "America's friends are traitors", shouted the crowd.

The United States does not confirm drone attacks, but its military and the CIA operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the unmanned aircraft in the region.

In 2010 the campaign doubled missile attacks in the tribal area with around 100 drone strikes killing more than 650 people, according to an AFP tally.

Addressing Friday's rally, a member of a local political committee, Sarfraz Khan, denounced the drone attacks for killing innocent people including women and children, and said that if it did not stop he would launch a long march to Islamabad in protest.

Washington says wiping out the militant threat in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt is crucial to winning the nine-year war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and defeating al-Qaeda.

Militant networks in North Waziristan are accused of escalating the nine-year war in Afghanistan and US officials want Pakistan to launch a ground offensive in the district to limit the Islamist threat.

Pakistan tacitly co-operates with the bombing campaign, which US officials believe has severely weakened al-Qaeda's leadership, but has stalled on launching a ground offensive in North Waziristan, saying its troops are overstretched.

Read more on:    cia  |  al-qaeda  |  pakistan  |  us  |  pakistan attacks

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