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Pakistanis Protest Strike on Village

January 21, 2006|From Associated Press

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Thousands of Pakistani protesters took to the streets Friday, chanting "Death to America!" as outrage persisted over an airstrike on a remote border village.

Pakistani authorities suspect that Al Qaeda operatives had gathered last week in the Bajaur region near the Afghan border to plan attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, when the mud-brick compound was hit by U.S. missiles, an intelligence official said. Thirteen villagers were killed.

United Action Forum, an opposition Islamic coalition, organized anti-U.S. protests Friday, the largest of which was in Peshawar, capital of North-West Frontier Province.

Several thousand people marched from two mosques, chanting "Jihad is our way!" and burning effigies of President Bush. Smaller demonstrations were staged in Lahore and the volatile border town of Wana. No violence was reported.

Officials have said that Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman Zawahiri, was the target of the attack, though Pakistanis have said he was not there. Some officials believe that at least four Al Qaeda militants were killed, but Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Friday that there was no evidence of that.

Aziz said security agencies "have not found any tangible evidence that a particular group or any individual was there."

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