Pakistan's Defense Minister Orders US to Leave CIA Drone Base

Pakistan told the US to leave a remote desert air base reportedly used as a hub for covert CIA drone attacks, its defense minister said Wednesday.

Ahmed Mukhtar's remarks are the latest indication of Pakistan attempting to limit US activities since a clandestine American military raid killed Usama bin Laden on May 2 and plunged ties between the anti-terror allies into chaos.

"We have told them [US officials] to leave the air base," national news agency APP quoted Mukhtar as saying.

Images said to be of US Predator drones at Shamsi have been published by Google Earth in the past. The air strip is 560 miles (900 kilometers) southwest of the capital Islamabad in Baluchistan province.

A US embassy spokeswoman said there were no US military personnel at the Shamsi base.

American drone attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan's northwestern semi-autonomous tribal belt are hugely unpopular among a general public opposed to the government's alliance with Washington.

CNN reported in April that US military personnel left the base, said to be a key hub for American drone operations, in the fallout over public killings by a CIA contractor in Lahore and his subsequent detention.