Pakistan halts NATO supplies after deadly strike
ISLAMABAD (PAN): Islamabad closed a key supply route for foreign troops stationed in neighbouring Afghanistan on Saturday, soon after more than two dozen Pakistani soldiers were killed in a NATO-led airstrike, officials said.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attack on the Pakistani post, Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said. "On his direction, the matter is being taken up by the foreign ministry in the strongest terms with Nato and the US," she added.
At least 28 soldiers were killed and 14 others wounded in the predawn bombardment of a Pakistan Army post in the Mohmand tribal region near the Afghanistan border, a military spokesman confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News.
In a statement, the Pakistan Army assailed the NATO-led soldiers for the attack, saying that the helicopters "carried out unprovoked and indiscriminate firing." Casualties have been reported but details were still coming, it added.
During the attack in the Baizai area, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops also fired at the remote, mountainous Salala checkpoint, manned by 40 Pakistan Army soldiers, said a Peshawar-based army official, who did not have specific casualty figures.
After the raid, Pakistan halted supplies to the ISAF soldiers by stopping dozens of trucks and fuel tankers in the Jamrud sub-district of the Khyber tribal region, a private TV channel reported. Geo News quoted a senior tribal administration official as saying the supplies had halted due to security concerns.
In Kabul, the ISAF commander promised a full investigation into the strike. "This incident has my highest personal attention and my commitment to thoroughly investigate it to determine the facts,” Gen. John Allen said in a statement.
He offered his "most sincere and personal heartfelt condolences" to the families and loved ones of any members of Pakistan security forces who might have been killed or injured.
On September 30, 2010, two paramilitary Pakistani soldiers were killed in a coalition helicopter attack in the Kurram tribal area. The NATO-led force later apologised for the cross-border assault that came after the soldiers fired at the choppers.
According to Geo News, Pakistan’s acting ambassador to the United States, Iffat Gardezi, has lodged a strong protest with the State Department over the Mohmand attack.
Hours ahead of the strike, Gen. Allen met the Pakistan army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. The two discussed coordination aimed at enhancing border controls on both sides.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.