ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's government summoned the U.S. ambassador on Wednesday to urge an immediate halt to missile strikes on suspected militant hideouts near the Afghan border.
Missile strikes have killed at least two senior al-Qaida commanders in Pakistan, putting some pressure on extremist groups accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan - and perhaps terror strikes in the West.
However, the increasing frequency of the strikes has strained America's seven-year alliance with Pakistan, where rising violence is exacerbating economic problems that threaten the nuclear-armed Islamic republic's stability.
Having called in U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson on Wednesday, "a strong protest was lodged on the continued missile attacks by U.S. drones inside Pakistani territory," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
The attacks have led to the loss of "precious lives and property" and "undermine public support for the government's counterterrorism policies," the statement said.
"It was emphasized that such attacks were a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and should be stopped immediately," it said.
In Washington, the State Department confirmed that Patterson had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry, but refused to discuss details of the meeting.
"I'll let the Pakistanis describe why they called her in," spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
U.S. commanders say Pakistani forces have not put enough pressure on militants in its remote and impoverished border regions, an area considered a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.