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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

PAKISTAN: Islamabad investigates US bombing

ISLAMABAD, 2 January 2003 (IRIN) - Pakistan is investigating an alleged US bombing of an Islamic seminary in the border village of Angur Ada in the country's southwest over the past weekend. "The security agencies are investigating the matter and they will shortly announce their findings," Aziz Ahmed Khan, a foreign ministry spokesman,told IRIN in the capital, Islamabad, on Thursday.

According to the media reports, the US military in Afghanistan have confirmed calling for air strikes after an American soldier reportedly sustained head injuries in Angur Ada, some 500 km southwest of Islamabad, in the course of a gun battle between a Pakistani border guard unit and US forces on 29 December.

Earlier media reports had speculated on the possibility of an Al-Qaeda and Taliban presence in the area after the US-led anti-terrorism coalition forced the two groups out of Afghanistan over the past year. The semi-autonomous tribal belt, where the incident occurred, remains one of the least developed areas of Pakistan, with high illiteracy levels, and lack of civic infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the hardline Islamic legislators controlling the North West Frontier Province condemned this alleged US bombing and unanimously adopted a resolution to that effect on Wednesday. "This house demands that the federal government take our protest to the US authorities," Ikramullah Shahid, a sponsor of the resolution, told the provincial legislature.

The anti-American Muttahida-ye Majlis-e Amal or United Council of Action (UCA)won the October election on a platform of opposition to the US military presence in Pakistan and the ongoing military operations in neighbouring Afghanistan.

After 11 September, in a dramatic policy U-turn, Pakistan abandoned Afghanistan's hardline Taliban rulers, and became a part of the US-led anti terror coalition. The country contributed significantly to the campaign by arresting and handing over large numbers of Taliban and Al-Qaeda suspects, as well as providing the US-led military operations in Afghanistan with key logistical support.

But,the astounding UCA victory in the general elections and the formation of their governments in the strategic provinces of NWFP and Balochistan bordering Afghanistan gave new impetus to the anti-Western campaign in the country. UCA leaders have repeatedly demanded the immediate closure of all US military
facilities on Pakistani soil.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict


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