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Suspected US missile strike kills eight in Pakistan

Pakistan, Thu, 23 Oct 2008 IANS

Islamabad, Oct 23 (DPA) A suspected US missile strike Thursday killed at least eight people and wounded six others in Pakistan's restive tribal region along the Afghan border.


Two missiles targeted an Islamic seminary, Sirajul Uloom, in Dandai Darpakhel village, located some three kilometres from Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district, at around 2.30 a.m., security officials and residents said.



'The strike demolished a part of the madrassa,' said a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity. 'Eight bodies have been retrieved from the debris.'



A local journalist and tribal elder, Malik Mumtaz, said on the telephone that all those killed and injured were students aged between 12 and 18.



Taliban militants sealed off the area around the seminary following the incident and the injured were moved to the main hospital in Miranshah.



According to Mumtaz, the seminary was set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, an Afghan Taliban commander who is a close associate of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.



It was not immediately clear whether the missiles were fired from aerial or ground platforms.



US pilotless aircraft drones have in recent months conducted several strikes in North Waziristan on hideouts of suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban militants carrying out cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.



Thursday's attack came hours after Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told a joint sitting of parliament that Islamabad 'will never allow any foreign power to mar the territorial sanctity of our borders.'



'The government will safeguard the country's frontiers at all costs,' Gilani was quoted as saying by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.



Pakistan's bicameral parliament late Wednesday concluded a two-week closed session convened to debate the growing militant violence in the north-western region close to the Afghan border, which is spilling over into main towns outside the immediate border regions.



The lawmakers wrapped up the proceedings by unanimously passing a resolution which stressed on reviewing the counter-terrorism strategy and giving highest priority to dialogue in conflict resolution, while rejecting any incursions and invasions.



Pakistan would never allow the use of its territory for planning aggression and launching attacks on other countries, it said. 'All foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from our soil.'



Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led fight against terrorism, is struggling to tackle a renewed surge in militancy emanating from the lawless tribal belt, which is described as a haven for Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.


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