Anti-US drone strike protest paralyzes life in NW Pakistan
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamabad, Oct 1, IRNA -- Thousands of tribesmen took to the streets in tribal region of North Waziristan on Thursday to protest against strikes by the US drone aircraft in the tribal region, a tribal elder said.
Elders of main Utmanzai tribe had called for a shutter down in North Waziritan to show anger at the drone strikes, a tribal elder Malik Mumtaz told The Islamabad Date Line on phone from Miranshah.
US drones regularly strike what it calls hideouts of the al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in the region.
Pakistani officials and tribesmen say that strikes also cause civilian casualties.
Waziristan is home of Taliban leaders Hakimullah Mehsood, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mulla Nazir.
Since a suicide attack killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan in December, covert US drone attacks have tremendously increased in the volatile Waziristan tribal region.
A number of high-profile militant leaders, including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud were killed in the drone attack in August last year.
A suspected US drone strike in Miranshah in February killed Mohammed Haqqani, a cousin of al-Qaida-linked Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose network is fighting against US and local forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Pakistan's military launched an offensive against Taliban in South Waziristan last October and claims to have made big gains against Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds.
Pakistan publicly criticizes drone attacks, saying they violate its sovereignty and fuel more anti-Americanism among the people, but observers widely believe that Pakistan shares intelligence with the US on drone strikes.
Mumtaz said that all main markets in Miranshah, Mir Ali, Datta Khel, Daigan and Razmak were closed and tribesmen and students staged demonstrations to condemn the drone strikes.
Protest rallies are rare in the tribal regions but the tribesmen took to the streets after the US increased attacks in recent days.
There had been four strikes last week in North and South Waziristan, according to locals.
Some 800 tribesmen took out procession in Daigan, a main town in North Waziristan, and marched in the main bazaar with raising anti-US slogans, Mumtaz said.
Students of the Post Graduate College Miranshah took out a procession and chanted slogans “Death to America” and “stop drone attacks”, he said. Both processions terminated peacefully.
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