Pakistan summoned U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson Thursday to lodge a protest over missile strikes launched by drone aircraft against militant targets in Pakistan, a Pakistani foreign ministry official said.
The protest came a day after a suspected U.S. missile strike on Pakistani soil killed five militants, possibly including an Arab al Qaeda operative.
There have been at least 20 missile strikes in the last three months, reflecting U.S. impatience over fighters from Pakistan fuelling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and fears that al Qaeda operatives hiding in northwest Pakistan could be planning attacks in the West.
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Pakistan says the missile strikes violate its sovereignty, make it harder to justify the alliance with the United States in a country rife with anti-American sentiment, and undermine efforts to win public support for the fight against militancy.
Wednesday’s attack on Bannu district was unusual in that it took place deeper in Pakistani territory, in an area outside the semi-autonomous tribal lands bordering Afghanistan where most other attacks have focussed.
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“The American ambassador has been called to the Foreign Office to lodge a protest over the missile attack in Bannu,” a Foreign Ministry official told Reuters.