Protesters burn a US flag during a protest in Multan on November 27, 2011, against a Nato strike on Pakistan troops. — Photo by AFP

BEIJING: An influential state-run Chinese newspaper on Tuesday accused the United States of violating international law and fanning the flames of terrorism after Nato strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The strongly-worded editorial in the People's Daily — mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist party — came after Beijing said it was “deeply shocked” by the strikes, which have exacerbated tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

“The United States and Nato have violated international law and international norms,” the paper said in an editorial condemning the attacks.

“This shows...that at crucial moments, the United States will not show the slightest hesitation to violate the sovereignty of another nation to ensure its 'absolute security'.”

The use of such cross-border tactics will only incite terrorist sentiment, the editorial added.

“The soil nurturing terrorism will become even more fertile, and terrorist activities will become more widespread,” it said.

Pakistan has reacted furiously to what it called an “unprovoked” strike, worsening US-Pakistani relations already in crisis after the killing in May of Osama bin Laden north of Islamabad by US special forces.

Washington has backed a full inquiry into Saturday's incident and sent its condolences, while Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday voiced regret over the “tragic, unintended” killings, but did not issue a full apology.

China is one of Pakistan's closest allies and the main arms supplier to Islamabad, which sees Beijing as an important counter-balance to its traditional rival India.

The two countries conducted joint military exercises over the weekend, while Beijing has built two nuclear power plants in Pakistan and is contracted to construct two more reactors.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday and expressed shock over the attacks, a government statement said.

“All nations of the world and international organisations should fully respect Pakistan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Yang said, according to the statement.

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