Suspected US missile strike kills 10 in Pakistan

Islamabad, PakistanIslamabad- A suspected US missile strike Thursday killed 10 people and wounded four others in Pakistan's restive tribal region along the Afghan border, as the country reiterated that the frontiers would be defended "at all costs."

Two missiles targeted an Islamic seminary, Sirajul Uloom, in Dandai Darpakhel village, located some 3 kilometres from Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district, at around 2:30 am (2030 GMT), security officials and residents said.

"The strike demolished a part of the madrassa," said a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Eight bodies were pulled from under the debris while two people succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.

A local journalist and tribal elder, Malik Mumtaz, said on the telephone that all those killed and injured were students aged between 12 and 18.

Taliban militants sealed off the area around the seminary following the incident and the injured were moved to the main hospital in Miranshah.

According to Mumtaz, the seminary was set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, an Afghan Taliban commander who is a close associate of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

It was not immediately clear whether the missiles were fired from aerial or ground platforms.

US pilotless aircraft, so-called drones, have in recent months conducted several strikes in North Waziristan on hideouts of suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban militants carrying out cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

Thursday's attack came hours after Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told a joint sitting of the upper and lower houses of the parliament that Islamabad "will never allow any foreign power to mar the territorial sanctity of our borders."

"The government will safeguard the country's frontiers at all costs," Gilani was quoted as saying by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

Pakistan's bicameral parliament late Wednesday concluded a two-week closed session convened to debate the growing militant violence in the north-western region close to the Afghan border, which is spilling over into other main towns.

The lawmakers wrapped up the proceedings by unanimously passing a resolution that said "the nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland."

The resolution stressed on reviewing the counter-terrorism strategy and giving highest priority to dialogue in conflict resolution.

"The challenge of militancy and extremism must be met through developing a consensus and dialogue with all genuine stakeholders," it said.

However, the resolution clearly stated that Pakistan would never allow the use of its territory for planning aggression and launching attacks on other countries. "All foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from our soil," it said.

Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led fight against terrorism, is struggling to tackle a renewed surge in militancy emanating from the lawless tribal belt.

Regular incursions by the battle-hardened militants into Afghanistan to attack foreign troops have led to a rise in US missile strikes on targets inside Pakistan, with around a dozen attacks taking place during the last two months.

Angered by the violation of the country's sovereignty, many opposition leaders have called for withdrawing support for the US-led war in Afghanistan. (dpa)