Saturday, January 14, 2006
By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer - 2 hours, 12 minutes ago
DAMADOLA, Pakistan - Pakistani officials on Saturday angrily condemned a purported airstrike meant to target al-Qaida's No. 2 man, saying he wasn't there and "innocent civilians" were among at least 17 men, women and children killed in a village near the Afghan border.
Pakistani tribal villager Ahmedullah, right, shows a page of the Muslim holy book Quran alegedly damaged by airstrikes in Damadola, that killed at least 17 people killed, Saturday, Jan 14, 2006 in Pakistan along Afghanistan border. Pakistan on Saturday filed a formal protest with the U.S. Embassy over the deadly airstrike Friday in which the CIA reportedly targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command as villagers denied the militant was ever there and thousands of Pakistanis protested the attack. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair)
Thousands of tribesmen staged protests and a mob set fire to the office of a U.S.-backed aid agency as Pakistan's people and government showed increasing frustration over a recent series of suspected U.S. attacks along the frontier that appear aimed at Islamic militants.
Survivors in Damadola denied militants were in their hamlet, but there were news reports quoting unidentified Pakistani officials as saying up to 11 extremists were believed among the dead.
A Pakistani intelligence officer told The Associated Press some bodies were taken away for DNA tests. He did not say who would do the tests, but a law enforcement official in Washington said the expected to conduct DNA tests to determine victims' identities, although Pakistan had not yet formally requested them.
Counterterrorism officials in Washington declined to comment on U.S. media reports that CIA-operated drone aircraft fired missiles Friday at a residential compound in Damadola trying to hit Ayman al-Zawahiri, 's top lieutenant whose videos have made him the face and voice of al-Qaida.
In Pakistan's strongest reaction, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed called the attack "highly condemnable" and said the government wanted "to assure the people we will not allow such incidents to reoccur."
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it protested to U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker over the "loss of innocent civilian lives."
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com
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