Pakistan orders U.S. forces to leave Balochistan air base used to launch most of the predator drone strikes.


 

Pak stops US from using airbase in Balochistan

2011-04-23

Washington: Pakistan has stopped US forces from using an airbase in Balochistan from where unmanned predetaor drones were operating, in fresh signs of growing rift between the two countries over the CIA operated strikes.

“Yes I can confirm Shamsi air base is no more under the use of American and 150 US personnel stationed at the base have left,” NBC reported quoting senior Pakistani military intelligence officials.

The reports came in hours after US drones struck in North Waziristhan region killing at least 25 people including foreign militants and some women and children.

NBC said the CIA had been using the base close to the Afghan border as a station to launch unmanned predator drones to attack terrorists targets inside Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The TV channel said the base which is also called the Bandari, is a small airfield and air station located about 200 miles southwest of Quetta, along the Afghan border.

The operation of the base – not publicly acknowledged by the American government — has always been presumed to have occurred with tacit Pakistani military consent, CNN said.

It was not clear from the Pakistani officials when the presence there began or when it ended.

A US military official who did not want to be identified told CNN: “There are no US forces at Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan.” He did not respond at the time or in writing to queries as to whether US personnel had been based there in the past.

The departure of American personnel — if confirmed — would be significant because of increasing strain between Islamabad and Washington sparked by the continuing drone attacks and by the Raymond Davis affair, in which a CIA contractor fatally shot two Pakistani men in a Lahore neighbourhood.

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