- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | Parliament condemned a U.S.-led attack in Pakistani territory after the government summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest the unusually bold raid in a troubled border region.

In news likely to stoke more anger, intelligence officials said a missile strike was suspected in a blast Thursday that killed at least four people in North Waziristan, part of the tribal belt where Osama bin Laden and his deputy are thought to be hiding. Previous such strikes have been blamed on the U.S.

The ground assault, with troops helicoptered in, occurred in adjacent South Waziristan early Wednesday. Officials said at least 15 people died, including women and children. The Foreign Ministry said no militant leaders were killed and there was no sign the attackers detained anyone.

U.S. officials declined public comment. But a U.S. military official said intelligence had indicated the presence in the village of people “clearly associated with attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.” He spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of cross-border operations.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to comment Thursday on the attack or on Pakistan’s condemnations.

“What I will reiterate is that we’ve been working closely with the new civilian government of Pakistan, which is feeling its way and trying to establish itself,” Mrs. Perino told reporters.

Analysts said that despite public anger, Pakistan is too economically dependent on the U.S. to risk cutting ties. Washington has given billions of dollars in aid, and past protests over suspected U.S. missile attacks inside Pakistani territory have had little effect on relations.

Still, Talat Masood, a political and military analyst, said the U.S. would be wise to avoid another ground assault.

“If this is repeated in any way, I am certain that it will have a very serious impact,” Mr. Masood said. “This government is trying to change the perception of the people that this is our war. It was trying to get a good relationship with the people of Pakistan and the United States. And then there comes this intervention.”

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said a deadly raid on a village by U.S. and Afghan commandos has put new strain on relations with the United States and promised Thursday to punish those responsible.

U.S. officials have said that at least 30 militants, including a Taliban commander, and no more than seven civilians were killed during the Aug. 22 raid. Afghan officials, backed by the United Nations mission, insist that more than 90 civilians died, including dozens of children.

Mr. Karzai’s comment came a day after he spoke to President Bush about the raid and how to prevent civilian casualties, his office said.

“In the last five years I have tried day and night to prevent these incidents from happening,” Mr. Karzai told the villagers assembled inside a mosque in Shindand, several miles away from Azizabad.

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