Monday, November 28

Here we go again: "Pakistan denies"

Haven't returned to blogging but couldn't resist posting this report. See Beeb website for a good map of the region in question:
28 November 2011 Last updated at 02:31 ET

Pakistan denies firing provoked Nato border attack

Pakistan has denied reports that it opened fire first provoking the Nato air strike which killed 24 troops at a checkpoint on the Afghan border.

It follows claims by Afghan officials that Nato forces were retaliating for gunfire from the Pakistani side of the volatile border region on Saturday.
Pakistan reacted angrily to the attack, which took place at two remote border posts in Pakistan's tribal district of Mohmand in the early hours of Saturday morning. Several protests against Nato's actions have been held across the country.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called it a "grave infringement of Pakistan's sovereignty" and officials responded by cutting key supply Pakistani lines to Nato in Afghanistan.

'Not true'

But unnamed Afghan officials quoted in The Wall Street Journal said that Saturday's attack was called in to shield Nato and Afghan forces who were under fire while targeting Taliban fighters. One official quoted in the paper says that Kabul believes the fire came from an army base.

"This is not true. They are making up excuses. What are their losses, casualties?" Pakistani army spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said in a text message in response to the allegations.

Maj Gen Abbas has also said that the raid went on for more than an hour and continued even after local commanders contacted Nato telling them to stop the strike, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Pakistani officials have consistently maintained that there had been no militant activity in the area, and most of the Pakistani soldiers were asleep. They also said Nato had the grid references of the posts and therefore should not have fired.
The night-time attack took place at the Salala checkpoint, about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from the Afghan border, at around 02:00 on Saturday morning local time (21:00 GMT Friday).

The Pakistani army said helicopters and fighter aircraft hit two border posts, killing 24 people and leaving 13 injured. Local officials said the two posts were about 300m apart on a mountain top.

Military sources earlier told the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Paktika province in Afghanistan that a US-Afghan special forces mission had been in the area, where they believed a Taliban training camp was operating.

They said the mission came under fire from a position within Pakistan, and they received permission from the headquarters of Nato's Isaf mission to fire back.

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