Saturday, November 26, 2011

winning hearts and minds................

Nato helicopter strike kills 25 Pakistani soldiers at Afghan border post

Pakistan has condemned an "unprovoked and indiscriminate" attack on its territory and immediately blockaded Nato supplies to Afghanistan after blaming coalition helicopters for killing up to 28 soldiers at a Pakistani border post.

Paramilitary forces patrol the streets of Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan November 26, 2011

Trucks carry supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan are stopped by Pakistani authorities

The death toll from the strike is likely to rise
The early morning air strike at the Afghan border was denounced as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and was set to inflame even further the continually tense relations with America.

Military officials said two majors were among the dead in the 2am raid in the Baizai area of the Mohmand region, and the death toll was likely to rise.

General John Allen, Nato coalition's commander in Afghanistan, said an investigation was under way and the incident had his "highest personal attention".

He continued: "My most sincere and personal heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones of any members of Pakistan security forces who may have been killed or injured."

Washington's relations with Islamabad have sunk to new lows this year after Osama bin Laden was found hiding inside Pakistan and an American contractor working for the CIA shot dead two men in Lahore.

Imran Khan, former cricketer turned politician, described the attack as "an insane and immoral brutality" and said it would only produce more anti-American sentiment.

He repeated his calls for the US to withdraw from Afghanistan and for Pakistan to end its support for the war on terror.

"Pakistan's continued involvement in this war would only produce more militancy and destruction," he said.

Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, said he had ordered the foreign office to complain to Nato and the United States "in the strongest terms".

Within hours of the attack, police had begun to halt Nato convoys carrying fuel and equipment on a vital supply route to coalition forces fighting inside Afghanistan.

About 49 per cent of Nato supplies reach Afghanistan through Pakistan and Islamabad has regularly used the lifeline as a pressure point during disputes with America.

"The latest attack by Nato forces on our post will have serious repercussions as they without any reasons attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep," said one Pakistani official.

Masood Kausar, governor of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said: "Such cross-border attacks are unacceptable and intolerable."

The porous and ill-defined border has seen a string of confused clashes as Nato troops try to prevent Taliban fighters from entering Afghanistan from havens in Pakistan's tribal belt.

Pakistan closed its border to Nato convoys for ten days in October 2010 when an American helicopter crossed the border while pursuing insurgents and killed two Pakistani soldiers it mistook for militants.

American troops manning border posts accuse the Pakistani forces of regularly allowing militants safe passage to mount attacks in Afghanistan. Afghan officials have accused their neighbours of firing on Afghan villages.

Saturday morning's attack came only hours after Gen Allen had met General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, head of Pakistan's army, to discuss how to avoid more border clashes

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