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Musharraf: U.S. attack unjustified

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Pakistan
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Pervez Musharraf

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf told CNN on Thursday that a U.S. airstrike earlier this month that killed 18 people near the country's border with Afghanistan was a "violation of sovereignty."

The CIA-ordered attack on the village of Damadola on January 14 missed its apparent target, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in the al Qaeda terrorist network, and sparked Pakistani protests.

In an interview with CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Musharraf said he believed around five or six al Qaeda operatives were killed in the raid.

But he added that the attack was an unjustified violation of an agreement that Pakistani forces should handle operations against al Qaeda inside their own territory.

Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest shortly after the attack.

"We were disappointed," Musharraf told CNN. "Intelligence is coordinated between our two countries, and there is cooperation on both sides at a strategic and tactical level. So it's a disappointment and we hope this is not to be repeated.

"But at the same time, while we are angry at the violation of sovereignty by the U.S., I am also angry at the violation of sovereignty by al Qaeda."

Asked whether he had received assurances that the attack would not be repeated, Musharraf said he was "pretty confident. This assurance was there and we hope that it doesn't happen again."

Musharraf said operations against al Qaeda along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan had been successful even though bin Laden and al-Zawahiri remained at large. He highlighted the death last month of a top al Qaeda official, Abu Hamza Rabia, north of the border town of Miram Shah.

"We have arrested about 700 al Qaeda operators ... innumerable people have been eliminated, arrested and deported. The latest was Hamza Rabia, the number three man of al Qaeda, who we got in the mountains. This is a lot of success."

Asked about Pakistan's arsenal of nuclear weapons and the nuclear ambitions of neighboring Iran, Musharraf said Pakistan had developed its nuclear capability in response to an equivalent threat from India. He said any country similarly threatened had a right to "defend their sovereignty."

"Security and sovereignty is the right of every country. Pakistan has a threat to its very existence, therefore we follow a strategy of defensive deterrence," he said.

"The moment India tested its nuclear device, there was an imbalance, and our strategy was compromised, therefore we had to go nuclear."

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