“The government of Pakistan strongly condemns the drone strike which has resulted in a large number of casualties,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said in a statement. – File Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday demanded an apology and explanation from the United States over a drone strike in a tribal region, which officials said killed around 40 people, the foreign ministry said.

“The government of Pakistan strongly condemns the drone strike which has resulted in a large number of casualties,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said in a statement.

“Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir conveyed this strong condemnation to US ambassador Cameron Munter and has demanded an apology and explanation,” she added.

“This is not only unacceptable but also a flagrant violation of all humanitarian rules and norms,” Janjua said.

She added Pakistan's ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani had also been asked to make a similar strong protest to the State Department.

Thursday's attack was the most lethal drone strike to hit the lawless region of North Waziristan since August 2008 when the covert campaign escalated in the areas bordering Afghanistan, and the seventh such attack in nine days.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also strongly condemned the drone attack and said “it will only strengthen the hands of radical and extremist elements,”an official statement said.

Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani condemned the strike which he said hit a council of tribal elders as “unjustifiable”.

“It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life,” he said, adding the army had protested “in the strongest possible terms”. – AFP

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