Pakistan Says 25 Soliders Were Killed By NATO Helicopter Strike

Tensions between Pakistan and the U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan are threatening to turn even more sour today after an apparent friendly fire incident:

Pakistani officials on Saturday accused NATO of conducting a helicopter attack on two military checkpoints at the northwestern border with Afghanistan, in strikes that military officials said killed at least 25 soldiers.

In response, Pakistan has closed the border crossing, blocking NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan. The strikes are likely to further complicate an already disintegrating relationship with the United States, which has accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop attacks on American forces in Afghanistan by militants taking shelter in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas.

In a statement, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said that it was investigating and expressed its condolences to the families of those killed.

“This incident has my highest personal attention and my commitment to thoroughly investigate it to determine the facts,” Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO-led forces, said in the statement. “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.”

A senior military official said political and military leaders were meeting to agree on a response to what he called an unprovoked attack.

The Pakistan prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, “strongly condemned the NATO/I.S.A.F. attack,” according to a statement released by the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Barrister Masood Kausar, the governor of northwestern Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, called the attacks “unprovoked and highly condemnable” while talking to AAJ TV, a private news network.

“This incident is highly regrettable and condemnable. We think there is no justification,” Mr. Kausar said. “This is not a small incident. It is being taken very seriously.”

The episode took place overnight at two military posts in Salala, a village near the border with Kunar Province in Afghanistan. At least 40 soldiers were deployed at the post, which according to Pakistani officials was established to repulse cross-border attacks by Afghan militants and the Taliban. The checkpoints had been recently set up in Salala by the army to stop militants in Afghanistan from crossing the border and staging attacks, according to military officials who asked not to be named.

This is likely to make the situation in the border regions even worse than they have been recently, of course, and any explanation that this was some kind of accident (as it most assuredly was) are likely to fall on deaf ears

FILED UNDER: Asia, Quick Takes, World Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    We need to get the hell out of Afghanistan and let the Iranians and Paks to fight over it.

  2. mike says:

    This is not good. Pakistan has shut down the shipping routes in retaliation. 1/2 of NATO supplies come through there. Talk about the war’s price tag going up. Any idea what it will cost to fly that stuff in or find another route? An obscenely expensive war is going to get even more expensive.

  3. @mike:

    If I’m not mistaken, the land routes through Pakistan account for a lot more than just 1/2 of the supplies needed in Afghanistan. Bringing things in through the north via Uzbekistan (or, as Herman Cain calls it, Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan) is an alternative, but not an easy one.

  4. mike says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You are probably correct. I was just going off of one news story and they were probably just guestimating or taking a quote from NATO who likely is trying to play down the harm to their supply routes. The big dilemma is that even if they pick other supply routes, so many supplies are in the pipeline and will have to be rerouted and there are probably not that many trucks in the region that can quickly reassemble elsewhere to get the supplies moving. If you have to get new drivers, good luck vetting them quickly. This could blow over in a few days or it may take weeks or longer. Depends on how much money/aid we are willing to throw Pakistan’s way.

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    The reality is we should not be in a position where we are dependent on Pakistan to supply our troops which can only mean we should get the hell out of Afghanistan. The only people who think our occupation of Afghanistan is making the US safer are the defense contractors and they are not thinking about the American people but their bottom line.

  6. CB says:

    get. the. hell. out.