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Massive tribesmen march in Pakistan, demanding halt to U.S. drone attacks

English.news.cn   2011-01-23 18:28:57 FeedbackPrintRSS

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- A large number of tribesmen Sunday marched in a main city in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region and demanded a halt to U.S. drone strikes in the area.

The demonstration in the town of Mir Ali was the second in the region in three days after over 2,000 demonstrated in Miranshah, the agency's headquarters, on Friday.

The Sunday's rally coincided with two strikes by the U.S. drone aircraft in Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, which killed seven people.

Two missiles were fired on a vehicle, carrying suspected militants, as they arrived at a house at Doga Madakhel village, said official sources in the region. The house and vehicle were destroyed, tribesmen said.

Three persons were killed in the second strike in the area when the missiles hit a motorcycle, witnesses said.

There was no report about the identity of those killed. A tribesman in Miranshah said over phone that he had seen six pilotless drones before and after the strikes.

A tribesman said over phone that the tribesmen in Mir Ali closed all markets and transports were off the road as a protest against the strikes.

They marched for a kilometer in the town and chanted anti-U.S. slogans and were demanding an immediate halt to the drone strikes.

Speakers including religious clerics, tribal elders, traders and student leaders condemned the drone strikes and said that innocent people are targeted in the attacks.

President of the Traders Action Committee of Mir Ali Bazar, Abdul Hakim, told the rally that the U.S. drone strikes have made the people physiologically sick as everyone is in a state of fear when the drones started flying over the area.

American pilotless aircraft regularly fire rockets in Waziristan as the U.S. officials say the area is the launching pad for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Tribesmen say that innocent people are targeted by the U.S. aircraft.

Chief of the Students Council Abul Rauf said that the people could go to mosques and funerals fearing strikes as "the Americans do not spare public places."

The speakers also lashed out at the government for what they called its weaknesses to adopt a firm stand on the issue.

The CIA considers Waziristan as the home of Taliban leaders Hakimullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mulla Nazir, who are fighting against U.S. and NATO forces across the borer in Afghanistan.

The Taliban-linked Haqqani network, fighting against U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan, is also thought to be active in the region, U.S. officials say.

Among a number of high-profile militant leaders, Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack in August 2009.

Pakistan publicly criticizes drone attacks, saying they violate its sovereignty and fuel more anti-Americanism among the people, but observers widely believe that Pakistan shares intelligence with the U.S. on drone strikes.

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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