Pakistan condemns NATO strike that kills 11 troops

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.

>>Fast facts

Recent clashes along volatile border

Other clashes and airstrikes this year along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border:

May 14: Missiles destroy a house and kill several people in the Bajur tribal region. The Pakistani army blames NATO forces in Afghanistan. The United States does not comment.

March 16: A missile strike in South Waziristan destroys the home of a suspected militant leader, killing at least 20 people. Witnesses say missiles were fired by an unmanned drone. There is no claim of responsibility.

March 13: U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan fire across the border into Pakistan, targeting Taliban militants. The Pakistani army says four civilians were killed.

Jan. 28: A missile from a U.S. Predator drone strikes suspected a terrorist safehouse in North Waziristan, killing top al-Qaida commander Abu Laith al-Libi. An estimated 12 people were killed, including Arabs, Turkmen from Central Asia and local Taliban members.

Pakistan condemns NATO strike that kills 11 troops 06/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 11:21am]

    

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