Special ops and Afghan commandos called return fire into Pakistan
The mission that resulted in the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers on Saturday began when U.S. Special Operations troops and Afghan army commandos launched a nighttime raid against suspected Taliban insurgents along the border in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, according to Afghan security officials.
After the coalition unit came under fire from the Pakistani side of the border, the troops responded by calling in an airstrike, which resulted in the Pakistani casualties, the officials said. “They did come under fire from across the border first, before reacting,” said a senior Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.
That account of the mission is disputed by Pakistani authorities, who say the U.S. launched an unprovoked attack on two of their border posts, a prolonged assault that continued for nearly two hours including after Pakistani officials asked coalition forces to stop. U.S. military spokesmen would not discuss the issue and said they are waiting for the results of an investigation into the incident before drawing any conclusions.
The border violence has seriously damaged the already fraught relationship between Pakistan and the United States. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told CNN that there would be “no more business as usual” and argued that such incidents suppress public support for helping the United States. Pakistan has already blocked NATO supplies at two border crossings and threatened to withdraw from an international conference on Afghanistan next week in Germany.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama considered the deaths a tragedy and offered his sympathy to the families of the slain soldiers and to all Pakistanis. “We take it very seriously,” he said.
A Pakistani security official said that anger within the ranks of Pakistan’s army had “reached an alarming level and the military leadership was very worried about it.” The official demanded that the United States and NATO issue a formal apology, carry out a joint investigation with Pakistan and mete out “stern punishment” to those involved in the airstrike.
“If these demands are accepted, then Pakistan could review its decision of suspending cooperation with the U.S. and the blocking of NATO supplies,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. For the time being, the incident has caused “a very serious fallout for bilateral cooperation, intelligence sharing, logistic support and, above all, the role the U.S. wants Pakistan to play in the Afghanistan reconciliation process.”
The U.S. military has said little about the sequence of events leading up to the killing of the Pakistani troops. But Afghan security officials interviewed on Monday said that the special operations mission in the Maya area of Kunar was targeting training bases and hideouts of Taliban fighters, including a Pakistani Taliban commander known as Abdul Wali. Insurgents there had regularly fired at a U.S. base in the area in the past, the officials said.
The officials said that the coalition troops came under fire from the vicinity of the Pakistani bases, located in the Mohmand tribal areas, and they called in air strikes in self-defense.
...I tend to believe the Afghan story. It suggest that the Pakistani forces let the enemy use their bases as cover for firing into Afghanistan. At the very least the Pakistan units were inattentive to who was operating adjacent to their bases. The Pakistan story just does not sound that credible.