x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Suspected US missiles kill nine in Pakistan

A missile strike comes hours after Parliament passes a resolution calling for a review of the national security strategy.

Pakistani tribesmen gather at the site of the missile attack near the town of Miranshah.
Pakistani tribesmen gather at the site of the missile attack near the town of Miranshah.

ISLAMABAD // Suspected US missiles struck a Taliban-linked school in northwestern Pakistan today, killing nine people, intelligence officials said, in an apparent sign of American frustration with the country's anti-militant efforts. The strike came hours after Parliament warned against any "incursions" on Pakistani soil in a special resolution that also called for reviewing the national security strategy and making dialogue with militants the top priority. "The challenge of militancy and extremism must be met through developing a consensus and dialogue with all genuine stakeholders," a copy of the resolution said.

But public anger is mounting over continuing US missile strikes and military incursions on Pakistani soil, as well as the government's failure to stop attacks such as the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott hotel in September. With today's fresh US missile strike in the tribal belt killing nine people, the legislators asked the government to move to end such attacks. "Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity shall be safeguarded. The nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively," it said. The suspected US spy drones fired missiles early today into a school set up by a top Taliban commander in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, killing nine people, security officials said. The religious school belongs to a local cleric who has been linked to the veteran Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, considered a top foe of the United States, the intelligence officials said. They gave the information on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Militants in the north-west are blamed for rising attacks on US and Nato forces in neighbouring Afghanistan as well as surging suicide attacks within Pakistan. The cross-border US missile attacks have angered many Pakistani lawmakers, and the pro-American government has protested them as violations of the country's sovereignty. Pakistan, which is nuclear armed, is also in the midst of an economic crisis brought on by high fuel prices, dwindling foreign investment, soaring inflation and militant violence. Late yesterday, the government formally requested financial help from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a possible loan default, a decision that could cost the administration political support at home.

*AP