Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday there were indications that al-Qaida members were killed in a U.S. airstrike near the Afghan border earlier this month.
“These foreigners are there and we need to eliminate these foreigners,” Musharraf said following a speech at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.
“There is an indication that there were some people also, al-Qaida people, who have got killed and we need to ascertain that. I’m not 100 percent sure of that,” Musharraf said in answer to an audience question.
The Jan. 13 airstrike killed at least 13 residents of the northern Pakistani village of Damadola.
Pakistani government officials have said there were foreign militants in the area and that some were killed in the airstrike, but they have not found the bodies. Intelligence officials said they believe the attack managed to kill at least four al-Qaida members who were meeting in Damadola, including a top bomb-maker.
“Investigations have found that there are foreigners there, that is for sure, in the general area,” Musharraf said.
Pakistanis infuriated by strike
The missile strike, which the U.S. says targeted but missed Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, infuriated many Pakistanis. Pakistani officials are still emphasizing their allegiance to the United States in the war on terrorism.
Musharraf told his audience that U.S. officials had said “that they will not act against Pakistan’s interests.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was to meet with President Bush Tuesday at the White House.
Musharraf, who was on an official three-day visit to Norway, said that Pakistan is using 80,000 troops to fight terrorism in the country, and that 700 al-Qaida members have been arrested.
There was tight security for Musharraf’s visit to Norway, the first by a Pakistani head of state, with armed police manning street corners of the snowy capital and police helicopters overhead.