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Pakistan slams 'cowardly' U.S. for killing 11 soldiers

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Pakistan on Thursday said a "cowardly" air strike by U.S.-led forces killed 11 Pakistani troops on Wednesday near the Afghan border and warned that it had harmed cooperation in the war against terrorism.

The army accused the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan of launching an unprovoked attack on a checkpost in Pakistan's volatile Mohmand tribal zone while the foreign office demanded an investigation.

In Kabul, the coalition admitted carrying out an air and artillery strike in Pakistan but said it was targeting militants hiding near the paramilitary outpost and that it had informed Pakistani forces.

The incident, the worst of its kind since Pakistan joined the "war on terror" in 2001, comes amid growing unease in Washington and Kabul over Pakistan's efforts to negotiate with Taliban militants.

In an unusually harsh statement, a Pakistani army spokesman "condemned this completely unprovoked and cowardly act" and said 11 soldiers died in the overnight air strike, including an officer.

"The incident had hit at the very basis of cooperation and sacrifice with which Pakistani soldiers are supporting the coalition in the war against terror," the statement quoted the spokesman as saying.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the incident, telling parliament: "We will take a stand to preserve the sovereignty, dignity and respect of the country."

President Pervez Musharraf backed the U.S.-led toppling of Afghanistan's Taliban regime after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., but his support for Washington has angered many Pakistanis and attracted the wrath of militants at home.

The foreign office condemned the "senseless use of air power" by the coalition, adding that the "attack also tends to undermine the very basis of our cooperation with the coalition forces and warrants a serious rethink on their part of the consequences that could ensue from such rash acts."

Islamabad later summonsed U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson to lodge a protest.

The official Associated Press of Pakistan reported that Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir conveyed the "resentment from the government to the ambassador."

Pakistani security officials said the deaths came after Afghan troops crossed the porous frontier and tried to occupy the strategic Pakistani post in the troubled tribal belt, which borders eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province.

The post was in an area long disputed between the countries.

Pakistani troops repulsed the Afghan soldiers and the coalition then bombed the area. Coalition aircraft also killed around 15 Taliban about a kilometer away, the officials said.

Heavily armed Pakistani tribesmen with rocket launchers and Kalashnikov rifles gathered near the checkpost in the mountainous Gora Prai area to show their support after the attack, residents said.

The dead soldiers' bodies had been sent to their hometowns for burial, state media said.

The U.S.-led coalition said an investigation was ongoing but did not specifically refer to the Pakistani allegations about the deaths.

In a statement, it said its soldiers had repelled a militant attack during an operation in Afghanistan that was previously coordinated with Pakistan.

Coalition forces informed the Pakistani army that they were coming under fire from "anti-Afghan" forces in a wooded area near the Gora Prai checkpoint in Pakistan, it said.

Unmanned drone aircraft identified the militants and "in self defense" the coalition fired artillery rounds and then used close-air support "until the threat was eliminated."

No coalition troops crossed the border, it said.

"We always reserve the right of self defense in these matters," a Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said in Washington.

The U.S. State Department called the deaths "regrettable." Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos added: "We're sad to see the loss of life among the Pakistani military, who are our partners in fighting terror."

"This is a reminder that better cross-border communications between forces is vital," the director of press relations said, reading from a statement.

A spokesman for Pakistani Taliban militants, Maulvi Omar, said eight "mujahedeen" (holy warriors) were killed by coalition helicopters.

Pakistan has protested over a series of missile strikes attributed to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan in recent months.

Several Pakistani soldiers have also been killed by stray shells, but it appears to be the first time any have been killed by a targeted air strike by U.S. forces.

The attack came two days after a think tank funded by the U.S. Department of Defense said members of Pakistan's intelligence services and its paramilitaries were supporting the Taliban.

© AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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DXXJP "When is the pentagon going to show what really happened instead of saving their ass photos. Notice the was no date or any other useful information on the film."

Nothing stops the BBC from choosing sides as to who beat up whom with baseball bats before any evidence comes in AT ALL except the time on the vid and some hearsay. Treat us like jury's media! Facts and nothing besides! Stop 'splainin it to us.

PLUS, If people are willing to suicide for the cause in droves, why in God's name would they NOT dupe coalition forces into actions that have this desired effect? You can't safely presume loyalties anywhere in the ME.

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Oh, I think people expect mistakes to happen in time of war. I just don't think the Pakistanis expected coalition forces to kill Pakistani troops in Pakistan, especially when the two sides had been in communication.

Anyway, "war is hell" is, I think, the wrong attitude. The right attitude would be: "Was this a mistake? If so, how did it happen? How can we minimize the chance of it happening again? If not, why did we do it? Were we correct in doing it?" I think that would be the right attitude in carrying out air strikes in another country.

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Sarge,

There does seem to be a severe disconnect concerning the public and military matters. People don't seem grasp even the basics of how things work or have any grounding in miliatry history to tell them what to expect. DXXJP (and others') post does bring up a good point, however; while I know nothing about the circumstances in this particular case, the brass does not always react well (or truthfully) to these incidents, making already skeptical public cynical about military matters.

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This was in cooperation with the Pakistan military. (Only apparently they did not pass on the information to the Talibans in time.)

Now, Obama has promised he will bomb Pakistan even without permission. Wait for things to get really interesting.

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When is the pentagon going to show what really happened instead of saving their ass photos. Notice the was no date or any other useful information on the film.

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"Pakistan on Thursday said a “cowardly” air strike by U.S.-led forces killed 11 Pakistani troops on Wednesday near the Afghan border and warned that it had harmed cooperation in the war against terrorism."

Mistaken accidental bombing (frendly fire) is neither "cowardly" nor "courageous", it is simply a mistake. This kind of stupid comment from the Pakistanis "harms cooperation in the war against terrorism". And while were're at it if the Pakistanis weren't so deep in bed with the Taliban I suspect we could have put an end to them a couple years ago. When are we going to really shake them down so they stop playing games with us and the world?

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Truimvere - Some people think that in this age of high-tech weaponry, etc., that there isn't supposed to be any casualties among the good guys/innocents. War is still hell.

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Not to sound insensitive, but it's a war after all. People get killed.

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Hey... 15 taliban killed a few klicks away. Were still up by 4.

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If Pakistan was really cooperating the plane dropping the ordnance would have been Pakistani...

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Saw the Pentagon video - ha ha ha.... someones fixin' to get fired. What a crock! It was the same video they showed about two years ago. I am 100% certain. Besides, the date pops - 2006. This is what happens when you can't speak the same language with your allies and your pilot has no geographic skills to tell where the hell he's taking his drone. DRONE???? I said drone didn't I? SO did the Pentagon's video release. But a day before they said US fighter jets!

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Who cares if its allies or women and babies that die from suicide bombers, its the 'infidels'' fault.'" There I fixed if for you.

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And then people wonder where this anti american sentiment comes from. Just another casual 'so sorry collateral damage' malarkey. Who cares if its allies or women and babies that die from airstrikes, its the 'terrorists' fault.'

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No need to explain further....call it a 'friendly-fire' and friendship between Bush-Mush will last until Jan. 2009

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