WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A new wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan apparently has been fanned by reports of a U.S. military buildup and embassy "spy houses," officials say.
It reportedly has slowed the arrival of hundreds of civilians and military personnel charged with implementing assistance programs in the fight with al-Qaida and the Teliban. It also has been cited as a threat to Americans in Pakistan, The Wall Street Journal said.
Of particular interest were so-called "spy houses" allegedly rented by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the capital.
U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has publicly labeled the reports false and she told local media executives in a recent letter that publishing addresses and photographs of the houses in question "endangers the lives of Americans in Pakistan."
Patterson denied local media reports that the embassy has hired Blackwater, the security agency now known as Xe Services that was formerly in Iraq, to spy on and seek to kill insurgent leaders.
Those accounts apparently originated with U.S. media reports this summer that the CIA had hired Blackwater to assist in a now-defunct assassination program against al-Qaida.
Patterson also criticized Pakistani newspaper columnist Shireen Mazari for "wildly incorrect" charges that the ambassador said could endanger Americans' safety. She assailed what she called "baseless and inaccurate" allegations that Washington-based Creative Associates International, a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was a "CIA front-company."
Reports of the planned embassy expansion have led to rumors that at least 1,000 Marines also would be arriving -- along with new contingents of U.S. spies.
Patterson appeared on local television to reiterate that Washington has no takeover desires and that there are only eight Marines in the country, guarding the main embassy building.