- Associated Press - Thursday, February 3, 2011

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A judge ruled Thursday that police can keep holding a U.S. Embassy employee accused of killing two Pakistanis for at least eight more days, officials said — the latest development in a case that has heightened tensions between the United States and Pakistan.

The United States says that the American, identified by Pakistanis as Raymond Allen Davis, has diplomatic immunity and that Pakistan must free him. U.S. officials say he shot the two Pakistanis in the city of Lahore because they were trying to rob him.

Pakistani authorities have avoided definitive statements on Mr. Davis‘ level of diplomatic clearance and have said the decision on his fate is up to the courts. Another judge, meanwhile, has instructed that the American be placed on the “exit control list” so that he cannot leave Pakistan.

If Mr. Davis is freed, it could spark backlash in a country that is a key counterterrorism ally but where anti-American sentiment is rife.

In Lahore on Thursday, hundreds of people, including relatives of the dead Pakistanis, rallied outside the barricaded U.S. Consulate, shouting, “Hang the American killer!” and other slogans. Police kept a close eye on the gathering.

Police official Zulifqar Hameed said a judge ordered Mr. Davis be held another eight days. His next court appearance is set for Feb. 11.

Mr. Davis was arrested Jan. 27. Besides the two men who were shot dead, a bystander also was killed when he was struck by an American car rushing to the scene to help Mr. Davis.

Also Thursday, gunmen in southwest Pakistan shot dead the driver of a truck believed to be carrying supplies for NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan. The driver’s assistant also was wounded in the attack near the border town of Chaman, security official Abdul Sattar said.

Militants and ordinary criminals in Pakistan frequently attack trucks carrying supplies for Western troops in Afghanistan. The shaky security has led the United States increasingly to rely on other routes, including through Central Asian countries.

In the northwest, a group of militants attacked a security checkpoint in the tribal region of Orakzai, killing a soldier. Seven insurgents died during the clash as well, government administrator Aurangzeb Khan said. Orakzai has been the focus of a Pakistani army offensive

Associated Press writer Matiullah Achakzai in Chaman, Pakistan, and Hussain Afzal in Parachinar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.


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