Pakistan Cuts NATO Supply Lines to Afghanistan
The Pakistani government shut down supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan after 24 soldiers were killed in a NATO strike.
The AP reported:
Pakistan on Saturday accused NATO helicopters and fighter jets of firing on two army checkpoints in the country’s northwest and killing 24 soldiers. Islamabad retaliated by closing the border crossings used by the international coalition to supply its troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
The incident before dawn Saturday was a major blow to already strained relations between Islamabad and U.S.-led forces fighting in Afghanistan. It will add to perceptions in Pakistan that the American presence in the region is malevolent, and further fuel resentment toward the weak government in Islamabad for its cooperation with Washington.
It comes a little more than a year after a similar but less deadly strike near the Afghan border in which U.S. helicopters accidentally killed two Pakistani whom the pilots mistook for insurgents. Pakistan responded by closing the Torkham border crossing to NATO supplies for 10 days until the U.S. apologized.
The border is unmarked and the terrain is rugged in the area.
The Long War Journal added this on the attack today:
The US helicopters struck an outpost in the Baizai area of the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of Mohmand, Pakistani officials said. The attack took place at the Salala check post, which is just over a mile from the border with Afghanistan.
“NATO helicopters carried out an unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on a Pakistani check post in Mohmand agency, casualties have been reported and details are awaited,” a Pakistani military spokesman told Reuters. Up to 28 Pakistan troops, including two officers, are said to have been killed and 11 more have been wounded, Dawn reported.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was aware of reports of US helicopters engaging Pakistani forces and that it was investigating.
The reported attack took place just across the border from Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar, a known stronghold of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terror groups. Afghan troops are currently conducting an operation in neighboring Nuristan province, another Taliban and al Qaeda bastion. US forces have mostly withdrawn from Kunar and Nuristan, and are relying on airstrikes and sweeps to keep the Taliban at bay.
The reason for the US attack in Mohmand is unclear. The border is unmarked and the terrain is rugged. Pakistan and Afghanistan also dispute the international border, which is known as the Durand Line.