Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Sunday, 11 October 2009 15:01 UK

Clinton warns on Pakistan threat


Hillary Clinton: "Extremists are threatening the authority of the state"

The US secretary of state has said that a militant attack on Pakistan's army HQ is evidence of an increasing threat against the authority of the state.

Speaking in London, Hillary Clinton said that despite the attack, the US remained confident about Pakistan's control over its nuclear weapons.

The attack, which began on Saturday and turned into a siege, ended hours ago after hostages were released.

Correspondents say the attack is highly embarrassing for Pakistan's leaders.

"Yesterday was another reminder that extremists ... are increasingly threatening the authority of the state, but we see no evidence they are going to take over the state," Mrs Clinton said.

Troops return to base after operation - photo 11 October
Security forces freed more than 40 hostages at the Rawalpindi base

"We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military's control over its nuclear weapons," she added.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Pakistan faced a "mortal threat", but there was no risk of its nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands.

The two officials also stressed other shared aspects of foreign policy:

  • Mrs Clinton warned that the international community would not wait "indefinitely" for Tehran to meet its obligations on its nuclear programme, while Mr Miliband said Iran would never have a better opportunity to establish normal ties with the rest of the world
  • The US secretary of state said Washington was committed to implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland and a "lasting peace that brings the benefits of peace to the people". She said Republican dissidents were "out of step" with the peace process
  • Mrs Clinton said that their joint resolve in the fight against the Taliban was "strong and clear", and that they were determined to work with the new Afghan government

Mrs Clinton also held talks with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, before flying to Dublin for the next stage of her tour.

Major operation

On Sunday morning Pakistani security forces freed more than 40 hostages held at the base, in the city of Rawalpindi.

Military officials said three hostages and two soldiers died in the operation along with at least four militants. Four militants and six soldiers died in the initial attack.

The sound of blasts and gunfire rang out as Pakistani special forces entered the compound for the pre-dawn raid.

Army spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said the forces had met resistance in what he described as a "very skilled" operation.

They found the hostages being held in a room "with a terrorist who was wearing a suicide jacket", he said.

Gen Abbas said the commandos had "acted promptly" and shot the suspected hostage taker "before he could pull the trigger".

The attack came as the army was preparing for a major operation against the Taliban, which officials say have claimed responsibility.

The Taliban had been threatening to carry out attacks unless operations against it were stopped.

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