Explosion rips through refugee camp in south Lebanon

Other News Materials 23 September 2008 17:26 (UTC +04:00)

Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, is set for his first talks with US President George Bush amid growing security concerns in Pakistan, reported BBC.

The two men will meet at the UN General Assembly in New York as anger grows in Pakistan at US forces in Afghanistan violating Pakistani sovereignty.

The US has launched several attacks on militant targets in Pakistan recently.

Meanwhile it is offering more help to Pakistan after the devastating militant attack on the Islamabad Marriott hotel.

The 600kg bomb destroyed much of the hotel and left more than 50 people dead. Most were Pakistanis. Two US state department employees were among the foreign fatalities.

British Airways has now suspended flights to Pakistan indefinitely following the Marriott attack because of security worries.

"The safety of our customers, crew and aircraft is of paramount importance," a statement from the airline on Tuesday said.

The Pakistani army is engaged in a fierce campaign against militants in the northern tribal Bajaur region which has forced some 300,000 people to flee their homes. The army says it killed 10 more militants there on Tuesday.

Pakistan and the United States have been in deep disagreement since 3 September when the US conducted its first ground assault in Pakistani territory on what it said was a militant target in the South Waziristan region.           

The Pakistan government reacted with fury at the unauthorised incursion in which they said US troops killed 20 innocent villagers.

On two occasions since then Pakistani troops have opened fire to thwart US forces trying to cross the border. There have also been a succession of US drone missile attacks along Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

US military officials have complained that militants operate from safe havens in Pakistan from where they attack international and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

They say that if they brief Pakistan about where they want to attack militants, elements in Pakistan's intelligence services sympathetic to the militants tip them off to help them escape.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Islamabad says cross border co-operation will be high on the agenda when Mr Zardari and Mr Bush meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

In a recent interview on American television, Mr Zardari again insisted that only Pakistani forces were authorised to operate on Pakistani soil.

Our correspondent says Mr Zardari cannot accept any military activities which will increase the mood of anti-Americanism in his country and from his perspective make the fight against militancy more difficult.

A little known group calling itself the Fidayeen-e-Islam said it carried out the bombing at the Marriott hotel. It has called for an end to all American involvement in Pakistan if further attacks are to be avoided.

It was the biggest bomb ever used by militants in Pakistan's history.

The US state department said the bomb showed the need for the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan "to work and redouble our efforts to counter extremism".

"We'll continue to work with the Pakistanis on trying to deal with the Taleban and al-Qaeda threat, not only in the tribal areas, but over in Afghanistan," spokesman Robert Wood said.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says the US is watching closely to see how Islamabad deals with the aftermath of the Marriott attack.

Pakistan's government has promised raids in some "hotspots" near the Afghan border.

But the US would like to see Pakistan take a more aggressive military approach on the ground, and rethink its unpopular peace deals with the militants.