(dpa) - Pakistan lodged a "strong protest" with the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan after one of their artillery shells killed four people on the Pakistani side of a remote border region, an army spokesman said Thursday.
Two children and two women were killed early Wednesday when coalition forces fighting militants in Afghanistan fired artillery shells into Pakistan's North Waziristan Agency and destroyed a house, Pakistan army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said.
It took a day to confirm the deaths because the remote area along the mountainous border has little infrastructure and it took time for Pakistani troops to get there, but once confirmed, "we lodged a strong protest," Abbas told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"It was an accident. It didn't happen by design," he added.
Pakistan's tribal areas have experienced similar attacks since Taliban and al-Qaeda militants fled into the area after US-led forces attacked Afghanistan in late 2001.
In June last year three rockets which were fired from Afghanistan hit a madrassa in a small village south of the Dattakhil area of North Waziristan, killing more than 30 people, a local security official told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa at the time.
Wednesday's attack sparked a protest by around 2,500 angry tribesmen in Khar town of the neighbouring tribal district of Bajaur.
The demonstrators chanted slogans like "Death to American" and "Death to Musharraf," and set ablaze an American flag.
"This is not the first American attack in tribal areas. They carry out at least one such attack in every 15 to 20 days," a member of parliament from the tribal district, Kamran Khan, told the rally. "We condemn the killings of innocent people."