Investigation urged after Pakistan missile strike kills 30
PAKISTAN: Human Rights Watch called on Pakistan Wednesday to allow an
independent investigation into a suspected missile strike that killed
around 30 alleged Al-Qaeda militants.
A massive blast on Tuesday destroyed a madrassa in the volatile North
Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan, which officials said was
being used as a militant training camp and bomb factory.
A senior intelligence official and residents said up to three
missiles fired from Afghanistan where US-led troops are active hit the
building, although the Pakistani army said the blast was caused by
explosives at the site.
Some residents said local children may have been among the dead.
â€śThe Pakistani government should immediately allow independent
investigators and journalists access to the Datta Khel area of North
Waziristan to ascertain exactly who and how many have died, at whose
hands and under what circumstances,â€ť HRW South Asia researcher Ali Dayan
Hasan said in a statement.
Hasan said the conflicting accounts given of what happened â€śhave only
added to suspicions that the Pakistani government has something to
hideâ€ť, which in turn would jeopardise the fight against extremism.
â€śOnce again, there are allegations of a US strike and of children
dying in that strike. Again Pakistan is denying US involvement or
Pakistani responsibility for the attack,â€ť Hasan said.
Pakistan army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said neither
Pakistani or US forces had any connection with the incident and that it
was caused by the explosion of bombs stored at the house.
â€śAround 30 people were killed in the blast. Ten to 15 are foreign
nationals. They had assembled there and were in the compound, using it
as a training compound,â€ť Arshad told AFP.
He said there were Arab and Turkmen militants among the dead but
there was â€śno report that any high-value target was in there,â€ť he said.
The US-led coalition in Afghanistan also denied any involvement in
Intelligence officials said on condition of anonymity that the dead
men were militants from Osama bin Ladenâ€™s Al-Qaeda movement, blamed for
the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Hundreds of foreign Al-Qaeda militants fled into Pakistanâ€™s tribal
belt after US-led forces ousted the Taliban regime from power in
Afghanistan for harbouring Bin Laden and his allies.
The issue of possible US missile strikes is sensitive because
Pakistan refuses to allow foreign troops to conduct military operations
on its soil.
Miranshah, Wednesday, AFP