First US drone strike outside Pakistan tribal belt

Missiles have been fired by an American drone struck an Islamic seminary in the northeastern Hangu district on Thursday, the first strike of its kind outside Pakistan’s volatile tribal regions. The attack killed six people and wounded five, according to a senior Pakistani security official. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/world/asia/drone-strike-reported-outside-pakistans-tribal-region.html?hp&_r=0&pagewanted=print
The attack came as Pakistani officials and politicians from across the political spectrum have intensified criticism of the American drone attacks, particularly after a strike killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, on Nov. 1.
In the latest attack, the drone fired missiles into the seminary at around 4:30 a.m. near the border with Afghanistan, Iftikhar Ahmad, a local police officer, said in a telephone interview.
“The bodies have been mutilated and burned beyond recognition,” he said. “We are investigating the matter.”
The drone strike Thursday happened a day after Sartaj Aziz, the national security adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told a Senate foreign affairs committee in Islamabad that the United States had assured Pakistan that it would halt such strikes during negotiations with Pakistani militants.
Mr. Aziz did not give any time frame as to when the proposed peace talks with Pakistani militants in the tribal region would begin. Earlier talks broke off following the strike that killed Mr. Mehsud.
The Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, which rules governs Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province in a coalition with a rightist partner, Jamaat-e-Islami, had already called for a protest Saturday to pressure Mr. Sharif to halt NATO supplies destined for Afghanistan to get the United States to stop drone strikes.
Speaking at a news conference in Islamabad on Thursday afternoon, Imran Khan, the former cricket star and politician, sharply criticized both the United States and the Pakistani government.
Mr. Khan said his political party would stage a mass protest in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, against American drone strikes and reiterated his vow to block NATO supplies. “I urge all people to gather in Peshawar on Saturday and show that we are honorable people,” he said.
Mr. Khan accused Mr. Sharif’s government of duplicity and failing to persuade the Americans to halt drone strikes. “The government says one thing to the Americans and another to its own people,” Mr. Khan said.

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