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Pakistan Leader Condemns Missile Strike


Pakistani authorities say last Friday's missile strike in a remote region killed several suspected foreign terrorists. It is the first confirmation that militants died in the attack, which also killed 18 civilians. The new statement comes as Pakistan's cabinet strongly condemned the attack, which news reports say was launched by the United States.

Pakistani authorities from the Bajur tribal region say the attack killed four or five foreign terrorists.

According to a statement issued Tuesday, other militants removed the foreigners' bodies to hide their presence in Damadola, a remote village not far from the Afghan border.

International news media reported that the air strike targeted al-Qaida's deputy commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was expected to attend a dinner in the village on the night of the attack. Although news reports say the United States launched the attack, U.S. officials have not commented directly on the incident.

Local tribesmen say Zawahiri was not in the area and the victims of the attack were civilians, including several women and children.

The air strike sparked nationwide protests aimed at the United States.

Reflecting widespread anger over the attack, the Pakistani cabinet Tuesday condemned the loss of innocent lives.

Speaking to reporters, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz described the incident as deeply regrettable.

"Pakistan is committed to fighting terrorism but we cannot accept any action that results in what happened over the weekend," he said.

Mr. Aziz made the comments at a news conference with former U.S. President George Bush, who was visiting Pakistan to survey relief efforts for the victims of the Kashmir earthquake last year.

Opposition parties are demanding that the prime minister cancel his first state visit to Washington. He arrives on Wednesday.

Mr. Aziz says his visit to meet President Bush will go ahead as planned.

"Our relationship with the United States is long standing and my trip to the United States is on schedule because we want to engage on many issues, including how we fight terrorism," he said.

Mr. Aziz says he will address last week's attack during his visit.

Despite the government's condemnation of the air strike, opposition groups vow to continue their anti-American and anti-government protests.

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