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US Drone Attack on Religious School Spurs Outrage in Pakistan

'Now no place is safe': Missile strike outside of tribal region likely to cause renewed protest across Pakistan

People gather at a seminary destroyed in a US drone strike in Hangu, Pakistan

People gather at a seminary destroyed in a US drone strike in Hangu, Pakistan. (Basit Gilani/EPA)

For the first time in over five years, a U.S. drone attack has occured outside Pakistan's remote tribal regions, hitting one of the more populated provinces and stoking widespread anger over the continued U.S. drone war in the country.

"Now no place is safe. The drones are now firing missiles outside the tribal areas." Shaukat Yousufzai, Pakistan provincial health minister

The missile strike hit an Islamic seminary in the area and according to local intelligence officials killed four adult students and two teachers.

The targets were likely members of the militant Haqqani network, but the building that was struck by the drone is reported as a popular and crowded facility for both Afghan refugees and religious students.

As the Associated Press notes: "Maulvi Noorullah, a teacher at the seminary, said there were nearly 100 students present when the attack occurred. Sixteen students were in the room next to the one that was targeted, but they all survived, he said."

And The Washington Post reports:

U.S. officials had no immediate comment Thursday on the missile attack on the seminary. But the incident is likely to further complicate relations between the United States and some Pakistani leaders.

Although the United States has carried out dozens of drone strikes in tribal areas in northwest Pakistan, provincial officials said Thursday’s attack was the first inside a Pakistani province in more than five years. It comes at a time of already heightened tension between the United States and officials and residents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Shireen Mazari, a spokesman for Pakistan's Movement for Justice party, which is headed by the popular politician and former cricket star Imran Khan—who has been a loud voice in the movement calling for an end to U.S. attacks—said the latest strike was “a declaration of war against the people of Pakistan.”

“The time has come for the Pakistan government to demonstrate through actions that there is zero tolerance for drone attacks,” Mazari said.

"Now no place is safe. The drones are now firing missiles outside the tribal areas," Shaukat Yousufzai, health minister for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, told The Associated Press.

"It is Hangu today. Tomorrow it can be Karachi, Lahore or any other place," Yousufzai told Pakistan's Dunya TV.

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