Aziz Says Pakistan Wasn't Warned Before U.S. Missile Attack
Bloomberg | January 22, 2005
Pakistani government officials weren't warned in advance before the U.S. launched a missile strike on a village near the border with Afghanistan to kill an al-Qaeda leader, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said today.
Pakistan condemns the attack and has recovered 13 bodies that appear to be civilians who were killed in the Jan. 13 attack, Aziz said on CNN's ``Late Edition.''
``The communication level and the coordination level was not where it should be,'' Aziz said. ``We had no idea that this would take place.''
The strike on the village of Damadola was directed at Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. While Al-Zawahiri wasn't there, ABC News reported last week that a suspected al-Qaeda bomb-maker was one of three al-Qaeda members killed.
The attack and the broader hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden are the backdrop for a meeting Jan. 24 between Aziz and U.S. president George W. Bush in Washington. The incident sparked anti-U.S. protests in Pakistan.
Aziz said Pakistani authorities are still trying to determine the identities of the bodies and whether any suspected terrorists were among them.
``We don't know who was there,'' Aziz said. ``We don't know when they came, if at all.''
`No Friends of Anyone'
Aziz dismissed the notion that the hunt for bin Laden and his deputies is hindered because some Pakistani military or intelligence officials may be sympathetic to terrorists.
``We should work together to get as many people as we can into the hands of the law-enforcing agencies because these people are no friends of anyone,'' Aziz said today.
Aziz said Pakistan doesn't have any knowledge of bin Laden's location or when he may have recorded an audiotape released last week that warns of more attacks against the U.S.
Aziz also rejected a report in the New York Times today that said al-Qaeda and foreign militants are controlling the tribal areas that stretch 500 miles along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan has assigned 80,000 Pakistani troops to guard these areas in the past few years and these forces have been responsible for a majority of the 600 al-Qaeda operatives who have been captured in Pakistan, Aziz said.
``Pakistan is committed to fighting terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations,'' he said.