Pakistani officials on Saturday accused NATO of conducting a helicopter attack on two military checkpoints at the northwestern border with Afghanistan, in strikes that military officials said killed at least 25 soldiers.
In response, Pakistan has closed the border crossing, blocking NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan. The strikes are likely to further complicate an already disintegrating relationship with the United States, which has accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop attacks on American forces in Afghanistan by militants taking shelter in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas.
In a statement, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said that it was investigating and expressed its condolences to the families of those killed.
“This incident has my highest personal attention and my commitment to thoroughly investigate it to determine the facts,” Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO-led forces, said in the statement. “My most sincere and personal heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones of any members of Pakistan security forces who may have been killed or injured.”
A senior military official said political and military leaders were meeting to agree on a response to what he called an unprovoked attack.
The Pakistan prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, “strongly condemned the NATO/I.S.A.F. attack,” according to a statement released by the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Barrister Masood Kausar, the governor of northwestern Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, called the attacks “unprovoked and highly condemnable” while talking to AAJ TV, a private news network.
“This incident is highly regrettable and condemnable. We think there is no justification,” Mr. Kausar said. “This is not a small incident. It is being taken very seriously.”
The episode took place overnight at two military posts in Salala, a village near the border with Kunar Province in Afghanistan. At least 40 soldiers were deployed at the post, which according to Pakistani officials was established to repulse cross-border attacks by Afghan militants and the Taliban. The checkpoints had been recently set up in Salala by the army to stop militants in Afghanistan from crossing the border and staging attacks, according to military officials who asked not to be named.
Mehmood Shah, a retired brigadier and analyst based in Peshawar, said the matter should be taken to the United Nations Security Council. Mr. Shah said Americans wanted to make Pakistan a scapegoat after facing failure in Afghanistan.
The border crossing closed at Torkham runs through the Khyber Pass and is the main crossing to Afghanistan from Pakistan. It is used by NATO to ship supplies into Afghanistan.
The episode also comes just a little more than a year after coalition helicopters killed three Pakistani security guards in a series of strikes. Pakistan responded by temporarily closing the border crossing at Torkham.
A similar attack occurred in June of 2008 and killed 11 soldiers belonging to a paramilitary force called the Frontier Corps, prompting the Pakistani government to temporarily halt shipment of NATO supplies to Afghanistan.
The border episode comes a day after the top Pakistani military commander, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, met Gen. Allen Jones, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, in Rawalpindi. The two generals had “discussed measures concerning coordination, communication and procedures between the Pakistan Army, I.S.A.F. and Afghan Army, aimed at enhancing border control on both sides,” according to a statement by the Pakistani military. (Source: The New York Times)
Comments - 3
Chandi Sunday, 27 November 2011 10:40 AM
Where Navi Pillai? is she there to talk only against Sri Lanka .
KD Saturday, 26 November 2011 09:38 PM
That is NATO. It's their god given right. Just keep quiet.
Nodrog Sunday, 27 November 2011 01:25 AM
Collateral damage not Human Rights violations!
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