ISLAMABAD/NORTH WAZIRISTAN - At least 41 people were killed and more than two dozen others got injured when US drones fired missiles on a jirga in tehsil Datta Khel of North Waziristan Agency on Thursday. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani condemned the US drone strike, said an ISPR press release issued in Islamabad. It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life. In complete violation of human rights, such acts of violence take us away from our objective of elimination of terrorism, the statement said. It is imperative to understand that this critical objective cannot be sacrificed for temporary tactical gains. Security of people of Pakistan, in any case, stands above all. Pakistan Army condoled with the families whose dear and near ones have been martyred in this senseless attack. Pakistan Army shares the grief of people of Waziristan. Troops on the ground have been ordered to render all possible assistance to the bereaved families, the statement said. Pakistan Army wished to assure brave people of Waziristan that it shall do its best and utmost to protect their life, honour and dignity at all costs. Pakistan Army is fighting the terrorists and not its brethren in tribal areas, it added. Pakistan Army has already launched a protest in the strongest possible terms. It has been highlighted clearly that such aggression against people of Pakistan is unjustified and intolerable under any circumstances. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has strongly condemned the drone attack in Datta Khel, North Waziristan Agency (NWA), and said it would only strengthen the hands of radical and extremists elements. He reiterated that such irrational behaviour negatively impact the efforts to separate the militants from the peaceful and patriotic tribesmen of the areas. He said these attacks would bode very negatively on joint efforts of Pakistan and the US to eliminate the menace of terrorism in this region. Expressing grief and sorrow over the loss of innocent lives in the attacks, the Prime Minister said his sympathies were with the bereaved families. He assured that all possible security measures would be taken to protect people of the region. Meanwhile, Pakistan has strongly protested against US drone attacks and sought an explanation and apology from Washington in this regard, reported a private TV channel. Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has written a letter to US Ambassador Cameron Muntar asking the latter to explain his countrys position regarding drone attacks in tribal areas. The letter states that Islamabad strongly condemns such attacks which are a clear violation of human rights. Pakistani Ambassador in US, Husain Haqqani, has been directed to send the letter of protest to the US State Department. The attack by CIA-operated drone aircraft came a day after the United States secured the release of American intelligence contractor, Raymond Davis, jailed for the killing of two Pakistanis after paying compensation to the families of the victims. Davis release clears the way for unfettered US drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, which were halted for weeks after Davis arrest in a long pause seen as linked to the tension over his fate. Reportedly, the US unmanned aircraft hit different targets including a jirga, suspected militants vehicles and their compounds in Datta Khel, around 25 kilometers in the west of Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan Agency. According to reports, the US drone fired four missiles on a jirga, which was attended by a number of tribal elders to settle down an old property issue between two tribes at Madakhel area. Sources said tribal elders and Levies personnel were also among the dead. They said 25 people were killed on the spot while many others who were retrieved from the debris in critical condition breathed their last before they were provided any medical treatment. According to media reports, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Barrister Masood Kausar has confirmed the US drone attack in Datta Khel and killing of tribal elders and Levies personnel. The Governor strongly condemned the drone strikes, terming them against the sovereignty of the country. It is also reported that before targeting the jirga, US drone fired two missiles on a moving car in which militants were believed to be riding. All the occupants of the vehicle were killed and the car was destroyed completely. Apart from this, some reports say the US missiles targeted a militant compound as elders loyal to commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur were trying to mediate between two warring groups there. However, the identity of the victims is yet to be ascertained and the death toll is likely to rise. Drone strikes have accelerated in March after about 30 days of halt. Six people were killed in a drone attack in the same area on Wednesday. Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has strongly condemned the drone attack in Datta Khel, North Waziristan. In a statement issued from London, the CM expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives in this attack.