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Innocent victims

20 January, 2006

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United States, while refusing to tender any apology, has defended the deadly air strike on a northwestern Pakistani village Damadola (Bajur Agency), in which 18 people, mostly women and children, had died on Friday last.

According to initial reports, the attack had aimed Osama Bin Laden`s deputy Dr Aimen Al Zawahiri, who had been invited to a dinner by a local family, however, he did not turn up.

However, the head of the bereaved family, who was also injured in the attack, and other locals deny that Zawahiri or any other Arab militants were invited to dinner.

Four US warplanes violated Pakistani air space and entered the tribal area from Afghanistan`s Kunar province in the wee hours. One of the warplanes fired missile on three houses killing 18 civilians, 14 of a family, and injuring 6 others.

The deadly air strike sparked instant countrywide protests, also participated by the ruling parties. Huge rallies were held in all over the country on the very next day, which were participated by all major political and religious parties.

The ruling PML(Q) also joined the chorus of criticism asking Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to postpone his US visit in protest against the air strike.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has defended the attack saying Al Qaeda and Taliban are not the people who can be dealt lightly".

US officials claim that senior Pakistani security officials had been informed prior to the air strike, but Pakistan denies that.

Islamabad lodged a " strong" protest with the United States over the unwarranted killings of the innocent civilians. It was the second protest lodged by Pakistan with its key ally in so-called war against terror, for incursion into its tribal belt this month.

1. Is Pakistan`s protest commensurate with the gravity of crisis?
2. Should Pakistanis still consider US their friend and ally?
3. Should Shaukat Aziz have postponed his US visit as a mark of protest?
4. What is your opinion about US refusal to tender apology on this unwarranted act?

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