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US deplores loss of soldiers’ lives

June 27, 2002

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WASHINGTON, June 26: The United States on Wednesday publicly thanked Pakistan for its overnight military operation against Al Qaeda fighters, calling it another sign of Islamabad’s commitment to the war on terrorism.

“We extend our deep appreciation to the government of Pakistan for taking action against suspected Al Qaeda forces in the remote tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan but deeply regret the deaths of those soldiers killed in the line of duty,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

“Our sympathies go out to their families,” he said in a statement that referred to the incident in which 10 Pakistani troops were killed during a raid on a suspected Al Qaeda hideout near the Afghan border.

“Since September 11, Pakistan has time and again shown itself to be a stalwart partner in the coalition against terrorism,” the spokesman said.

“That several of its soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice once again proves its commitment to our common struggle against terror.”

Five soldiers and five paramilitaries as well as two Chechen Al Qaeda militants were killed in the midnight raid, prompted by tip-offs from US agents, on a tribal home the North West Frontier Province where up to 50 extremists were hiding, according to officials and witnesses.

The rest of the militants had fled and Pakistani troops backed by helicopters were combing the region on Wednesday to hunt them down.—AFP