The Pakistani army is investigating the crash of a suspected U.S. spy plane in the border region of the country where there are growing concerns about strained relations between the two nations.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Pakistani army claimed it had recovered the wreckage of what is believed to be a surveillance aircraft but denied previous claims the plane had been shot down.

The army said the aircraft appeared to have crashed due to a malfunction and it would be investigating the wreckage further.

Late Tuesday night, three Pakistani intelligence officials had claimed military troops and tribesmen had shot down the drone near Jalal Khel in the South Waziristan region of the country.

Washington has acknowledged the operation of drones in neighbouring Afghanistan, saying they are used to conduct surveillance of suspected militant hideouts and to occasionally launch missile attacks.

The region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is a known haven for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who attack American and NATO troops as well as Pakistani extremists.
CIA active in the area

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan confirmed one of its drones did go down on Tuesday but in the Afghan province bordering Waziristan.

Officials said that wreckage had been retrieved and none of the coalition's other drones were missing.

The CIA is also known to operate drones in the region.

The crash comes amid strained relations between Pakistan and Washington.

Washington has urged Pakistan to assert control in the region and take stiffer action against militants in the mountainous tribal belt.

There's been growing concern in the United States that Pakistan is unwilling or incapable of rooting out extremists in its border region.

A suicide car bomber in the border city of Quetta killed an 11-year-old girl and 11 military troops on Wednesday. A truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad killed 53 people and injured more than 260 on Saturday.
Pakistan can solve its problems, president says

But some Pakistani leaders and citizens have been condemning American operations that have crossed the border of Afghanistan and into Pakistan as a violation of the country's sovereignty. U.S. commandos raided South Waziristan on Sept. 3.

In his first face-to-face meeting with Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, in New York on Tuesday, President George W. Bush said the United States is only trying to help Pakistan protect itself.

Give me a break


Zardari responded that his country is able to find its own solutions to its problems.

A government official in the Bajur region said Wednesday Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships killed at least 20 more militants near Khar in addition to more than 60 insurgents in the northwestern part of the country on Tuesday.