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Pakistan was consulted before fatal NATO hit: Report

Last updated on: December 2, 2011 19:17 IST

Pakistan was consulted before fatal NATO hit: Report

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Did the Pakistani officials mistakenly sanction the deadly NATO strike on their own border outposts killing 24 soldiers? According to a Wall Street Journal report, that is what happened on the fateful Saturday.

"Pakistani officials at a border coordination center gave the go-ahead to American airstrikes that inadvertently killed 24 Pakistan troops, unaware that their own forces were in the area", the paper said quoting US officials' brief on the preliminary investigation into the incident.

US officials, giving their first detailed explanation of the worst friendly-fire incident of the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, said an Afghan-led assault force that included American commandos were hunting Taliban militants when they came under fire from an encampment along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

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Reports based on interviews with members of commando team

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The commandos thought they were being fired upon by militants, however, the assailants turned out to be Pakistani military personnel who had established a "temporary campsite", US officials were quoted as saying.

An official said that according to the initial US account from the field, the commandos requested airstrikes against the encampment, prompting the team to contact a joint border-control center to determine whether Pakistani forces were in the area. The border-control center is manned by US, Afghan and Pakistani representatives who are supposed to share information and head off conflicts. However, the centre was not notified in advance about plans to strike Taliban insurgents near that part of the border.

"When called, the Pakistani representatives at the center said there were no Pakistani military forces in the area identified by the commandos, clearing the way for the Americans to conduct the airstrikes", the US officials were quoted as saying. The report also threw in a word of caution.

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NATO strike major setback to US-Pak relations

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"The US officials cautioned the latest account is based mainly on interviews with members of the commando team and could change as more information is gathered," the report said. The incident resulted in another major setback to US-Pak relations.

In response, Pakistan has pulled out of an international conference on the Afghan war in Bonn to be held next week. Islamabad also has closed border crossings used by the US and its NATO allies to bring in supplies for troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

 



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