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US personnel vacate Shamsi airbase

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According to the security sources, drones, military hardware and 71 US soldiers have been moved from Shamsi airbase to Afghanistan. - Reuters (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: The United States on Sunday vacated a Pakistani airbase following a deadline given by Islamabad over Nato air strikes last month that killed 24 soldiers, officials said.

Pakistan's military said in a statement that the last flight carrying US personnel and equipment had left Shamsi airbase, in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, completing a process that began last week.

“The control of the base has been taken over by the Army,” the statement said.

The base was widely believed to have been used in covert CIA drone attacks against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda commanders in northwest Pakistan's tribal areas, which border Afghanistan.

A senior security official requesting anonymity earlier told AFP: “The Americans have vacated the Shamsi air base and it has been handed over to the Pakistani security forces.”

Another official in Balochistan confirmed that the last batch of US officials left in two flights on Sunday.

Islamabad's fraught relationship with Washington has plumbed new depths in the wake of the November 26 Nato strikes, which Pakistan's military has called a deliberate attack.

Pakistan closed two border crossings to Afghanistan to US and Nato supplies and gave American personnel until Sunday to leave Shamsi airbase.

US Ambassador to Islamabad Cameron Munter told a Pakistan television channel last week: “We are complying with the request.”

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