30 September 2010

Pakistani Troops Killed by NATO Helicopter Strike

The "hot pursuit" option that NATO forces have been invoking to hunt down insurgents who make it across the Pakistani border may have led to the deaths of 3 Pakistani soldiers and the wounding of several others.
NATO helicopters from Afghanistan attacked a militant-infested border region of Pakistan today, killing three Pakistani soldiers, a Pakistani official said, a raid that is certain to raise tensions.

A spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, however, said none of its helicopters had crossed into Pakistani airspace.

Pakistan has said it would consider response options if NATO forces continued to violate its sovereignty.

Two NATO helicopters attacked Teri Mangal village in Kurram, an ethnic Pashtun tribal region in the Pakistani northwest, a Pakistani security official said.

"The helicopters shelled the area for about 25 minutes. Three of our soldiers manning a border post were killed and three wounded," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Today's attack if confirmed, would be the fourth cross-border raid in recent days, which comes just as the United States steps up strikes by unmanned drone aircraft in Pakistan's North Waziristan.

ISAF spokeswoman Major Sunset Belinsky said the helicopters targeted militants in Afghanistan's eastern Paktia province, opposite Kurram, and they did not cross into Pakistan.

But Pakistan military officials had informed ISAF that their border forces had been struck in the attack, she said in a statement.

"ISAF is working with Pakistan to ascertain if the two events are linked. The matter remains under investigation," she said.

In an apparent response to the inadvertant attack, Pakistan has closed a major supply route for NATO and US forces in Afghanistan.

The move comes after three Pakistani soldiers were killed in a Nato helicopter attack near the border.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan says it is not clear whether the closure is in retaliation for the attack.

But the blockade, if it becomes permanent, could lead to a major escalation in tensions between Pakistan and the United States.

A queue of about 100 Nato vehicles is now waiting to cross the border into Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said after the border attack on Thursday that "we will have to see whether we are allies or enemies".
By: Shelldrake

1 comment:

Matt Purvis said...

As usual, I'm skeptical until we see some good evidence. I remember sitting across a small valley from a Pakistani border checkpoint in 2005-2006. A high ridge was behind our position and many nights we watched flashlight signaling between the border guards and insurgents on the ridge. Once, another squad got into a firefight with insurgents wearing the Pakistani border guard uniform. It was determined the KIA's were not border guards. I guess they had stolen some laundry.