(AFP) – Sep 5, 2008
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) — Three children and two women were killed when missiles fired by a suspected unmanned US aircraft hit a village on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border Friday in the third such attack in as many days, officials said.
The strike hit two houses belonging to tribesmen in North Waziristan's Goorweck Baipali village, 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of the main town of Miranshah, and located right on the border with Afghanistan, they said.
"Three children and two women have been killed in the missile strike, which destroyed two village homes," an official said, adding that one woman was injured.
"We suspect that the missiles were fired by forces across the border," the official added. Residents said two pilotless aircraft fired three missiles.
Pakistan's army however denied that any strike was carried out on its sovereign territory.
"There is no strike on our side of the border. The news is incorrect," chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.
A tribesman in Miranshah said the village criss-crossed the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"Half of the village is in Pakistan and the other half is in Afghanistan," Aqleem Khan said.
An interior ministry official said earlier that locals reported the strike was on the Pakistani side of the border but later it was clarified that the houses damaged in the strike were located on the Afghan side.
The White House declined to comment directly on the claim of US involvement from across the border in Afghanistan in recent days.
"We respect their sovereignty and we support their new civilian government," spokeswoman Dana Perino said of Pakistan, adding that US President George W. Bush "grieves any time there is a loss of innocent life."
The latest strike follows Pakistani accusations that US-led forces based in Afghanistan killed 15 people in a border village on Wednesday in neighbouring South Waziristan district.
Around 3,000 Pakistani tribesmen chanted "Allahu akbar" and "death to America" in South Waziristan's Wana district after Friday prayers to protest at Wednesday's claimed US-led raid, which involved helicopter gunships and ground troops.
Both the US-led coalition and the separate NATO-led security force operating in Afghanistan have said they have no knowledge of that incident.
South Waziristan is a known haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.
Several officials claimed that Friday's missile strike killed children and women, not militants.
Friday's incident followed a separate attack late Thursday when at least five militants were killed when a missile fired from an unmanned plane hit a house in the North Waziristan village of Mohammad Khel, officials said.
Missile strikes targeting militants in Pakistan in recent weeks have been blamed on US-led coalition forces or CIA drones based in Afghanistan. Pakistan does not have missile-equipped drones.
US and Afghan officials say Pakistan's tribal areas are a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who sneaked into the rugged region after the fall of the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001.
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