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Missile attacks inside Pakistan to continue: US

By Lalit K Jha in Washington
January 28, 2009 14:15 IST
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Overriding strong objections from Islamabad, the United States has conveyed to Pakistan that missile strikes to take out high value militant targets inside its territory would continue.

This decision of the new US administration was made known by the Defence Secretary Robert Gates in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he also outlined that Pentagon was preparing to send two more army brigades to Afghanistan within weeks and the third in eight months time.

"Both President (Geoge W) Bush and President (Barack) Obama have made clear that we will go after al Qaeda wherever it is and we will continue to pursue them," Gates said. "The decision has been transmitted to the Pakistan government," Gates added.

Last week Pakistan asked the US to stop missile strikes, terming them counter-productive. Former president Pervez Musharraf, currently on a US tour, also said in an interview to CNN that the attacks were making the US unpopular in Pakistan.

Two missile strikes in Waziristan on Pakistan's side of the Durand Line last Friday were the first predator attacks since Obama assumed office. The strikes left 21 people dead, most of them foreign militants.

Since last year US forces have launched over 26 such strikes on suspected al Qaeda and Taliban hideouts close to the Pak-Afghan border.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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