MIRAMSHAH, Sept 13: The Pakistan Air Force started reconnaissance flights in areas on the border with Afghanistan on Saturday in the wake of increased airspace violations by US drones and incursions by coalition forces into tribal areas.

A US spy plane was seen in the skies above North Waziristan earlier during the day, but it disappeared as soon as Pakistani fighters appeared. The jets, which were seen for the first time after a series of US attacks in the tribal belt, reconnoitred the region for an hour.

Locals welcomed the PAF move as reassuring. “The presence of Pakistani fighter planes gave a sense of security to the people,” one man said.

Twelve people were killed and 14 others injured when a US drone hit the building of a non-functional school in Toolkhel area of North Waziristan on Friday.

Last week, US-led forces had carried out a ground assault in Angoor Adda, near the Afghan border, killing over 50 people. Tribesmen welcomed the “timely reaction” by Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to the US action.

A group of tribal elders said at a press conference at the Miramshah Press Club on Saturday that “we shall fight shoulder to shoulder with the Army and shall never hesitate to sacrifice our lives”.

“If missile attacks and bombing of our houses and markets do not stop, a tribal lashkar will launch a counter-attack inside Afghanistan.

“We will not allow the aggressors to kill our children and women and destroy our homes. We will fight back and defend our frontiers,” they added.

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