Protest lodged with US ambassador

ISLAMABAD, Sept 3: Pakistan on Wednesday condemned an incursion into its territory by the US-led coalition forces based in Afghanistan, saying it constituted a grave violation of its territorial sovereignty and undermined its efforts against terrorism.

US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson was summoned to the Foreign Office, where Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir lodged a protest against the helicopter-borne ground attack by coalition troops on a village near Angoor Adda in South Waziristan that resulted in 20 civilian casualties.

The foreign secretary told the ambassador that the assault supported by air assets based in Afghanistan was a gross violation of Pakistan’s territory which was unacceptable and tantamount to a grave provocation.

He said it was most unfortunate that coalition forces in Afghanistan had resorted to cross-border attacks on civilians.

Impressing upon the US that such attacks were counter-productive for joint efforts against terrorism, he warned that the incident could fuel the “fire of hatred and violence” which the government was trying to extinguish.

The US ambassador promised that Pakistan’s concerns would be communicated to Washington.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Wednesday no external forces would be allowed to launch an attack inside Pakistan’s territory.

He said Pakistan was a sovereign country fully capable of countering extremist and terrorist elements within its borders on its own.

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