U.s. Drones Kill 17 in Nw Pakistan; Protests Over Bin Laden
U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles into a house in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region on Friday, killing at least 17 suspected militants as Islamists protested against the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Four drones took part in the first such attack since U.S. special forces killed the al Qaeda leader on Monday not far from Islamabad, further straining ties between the strategic allies whose cooperation is needed to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan.
Facing relentless suicide bombings by Islamic militants and struggling with a stagnant economy, Pakistan’s leaders now face criticism from all sides on bin Laden.
Both Islamists and ordinary Pakistanis are questioning how their leaders can just stand by while the United States sends commandos deep inside the country into a garrison city to eliminate the al Qaeda chief.
At the same time, suspicions that some Pakistani security forces might have known he was hiding in the country threaten to strain already uneasy ties with Washington.
“The country’s political and military leadership should immediately resign as they have failed to ensure the country’s integrity,” said Fareed Ahmed Paracha, a senior leader of the biggest Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, at a rally in the eastern city of Lahore.
“This is an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said Paracha of the raid by Navy SEALS that ended one of the most extensive manhunts in history.
Pre-dominantly Muslim Pakistan has yet to see any major backlash since bin Laden’s killing, but is death has angered Islamists.
About 1,500 Islamists demonstrated near the city of Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province in the southwest, saying more figures like bin Laden would arise to wage holy war against the United States.
“Jihad (holy war) against America will not stop with the death of Osama,” Fazal Mohammad Baraich, a cleric, said amid shouts of “Down with America.”
“Osama bin Laden is a shaheed (martyr). The blood of Osama will give birth to thousands of other Osamas.”