PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Pakistani tribesmen, above, marched Saturday near Damadola to protest the airstrike. Local officials in the region, the Bajaur district, said the attack destroyed three houses in the village and killed at least 18 civilians. [This story was reported here in DemLog last night, 7 hours ago.]
American and Pakistani officials have said the American airstrike, on the village of Damadola, was believed to have been carried out in the early morning hours on Friday by a remotely piloted Predator aircraft armed with missiles.
On Saturday, a Central Intelligence Agency spokesman declined to comment on any raid that might have taken place. The agency is known to operate armed Predator aircraft, but the missions remain classified and are not generally acknowledged by the C.I.A.
The White House had no immediate comment, said a spokesman, Blair Jones.
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan mentioned the attacks during a meeting on Saturday with officials from the town of Sawabi, according to a local reporter. He was quoted as saying: "We are looking into it, as to who has done it. We are looking into it, that there were people who came from outside."
Thousands of tribesmen, led by a local parliamentarian, protested the killings on Saturday, chanting anti-American and anti-government slogans in the town of Khaar, the central administrative center of Bajaur.
After the rally dispersed, 800 to 900 men went on a rampage and attacked the offices of two nongovernmental organizations in the town, according to the local Pakistani reporter. People in the crowd looted computers from an American-financed aid organization called BEST and then torched the compound. The office of an Italian aid group, Intersos, was smashed and looted before the authorities intervened.
Pakistan has not granted American forces in Afghanistan the right to cross the border, even in pursuit of militants. President Musharraf has made a point of highlighting Pakistani security efforts to hunt down militant figures taking shelter in the lawless northwestern tribal region, but American officials have expressed frustration with a lack of progress.
D.H.: This appears to be more evidence of the success of the Bush Administration in winning the hearts and minds of the locals to support America's export of democracy and Christianity to the middle east. Western culture, enforced by the missiles of unmanned Predator aircraft.