ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan on Wednesday accused U.S.-led NATO forces of killing 11 paramilitary troops in an "unprovoked" and "senseless" airstrike Tuesday night on a post just inside Pakistan's mountainous border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan said the coalition attack killed 11 members of the Mohmand Rifles, a unit of the Frontier Corps, a local paramilitary force commanded by regular army officers. Thirteen troops were reported to be injured.
The Foreign Ministry called the incident "a gross violation" of the international border that threatens to undermine cooperation with U.S. and NATO forces fighting Islamic insurgents in Afghanistan who use Pakistan's remote tribal region as a refuge.
A Foreign Ministry statement on the deaths contained Islamabad's harshest criticism of the U.S.-led NATO coalition since the Bush administration won Pakistan's support for the 2001 intervention in Afghanistan.
A U.S. military statement said coalition forces fired artillery at insurgents who had attacked the coalition's base, which is close to the Pakistani post. It said NATO forces coordinated the artillery barrage beforehand with the Pakistani military.
The incident is likely to further damage the fraying relationship between the United States and the Pakistani military at a time when senior U.S. officials are concerned that Osama bin Laden and his supporters are plotting new terrorist attacks on the United States and its allies from sanctuaries inside Pakistan's tribal belt.
U.S. commanders complain that the Pakistani military has failed to deal forcefully with al-Qaida-allied Afghan and Pakistani Islamic militants and contend that peace deals negotiated by the army have enabled militants to step up their attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Some U.S. officers privately contend that some Pakistani army, intelligence and paramilitary officers secretly aid the insurgents despite Islamabad's avowed support for the Bush administration's war on terror.
Earlier this week, a study by the RAND Corp., a U.S. research group, concluded that Pakistan is training, financing and otherwise aiding Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The Pentagon commissioned the study.
Islamabad vehemently denies the charges.