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Forces acted in self-defence, but mistakes on both sides: US, NATO

Forces acted in self-defence, but mistakes on both sides: US, NATO

Dec 22, 2011 - 17:30

WASHINGTON (PANinfo-icon): The US and NATOinfo-icon-led forces acted in self-defence after being attacked on November 26, when 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed, but mistakes were committed by both sides, the Pentagon and the alliance said on Thursday.

Neither NATO nor the US Department of Defense had so far offered any apology for the incident as demanded by Pakistaninfo-icon; which has furiously reacted to the cross-border fire.

 “The investigating officer found that US forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self-defence and with appropriate force after being fired upon. He also found that there was no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.

 “The combined international and Afghan force was initially fired upon by unidentified forces, then believed not to be Pakistani military, and legitimately responded in self-defence,” NATO said in a separate issued by Brussels.

“The investigation has ascertained that a series of mistakes were made on both sides in failing to properly co-ordinate their locations and actions, both before the operation and during the resulting engagement,” NATO said.

However, neither of the statements clarified that if both conducted separate investigation or were the same.

Noting that the combined force did not knowingly fire at the Pakistani forces, NATO said the investigation has substantiated that close air support was employed in self-defense in response to intense, heavy machine gun and mortar fire initiated by what turned out to be Pakistan forces near the border in the vicinity of Salala.   

“A thorough review of the operational plan and communications during the incident substantiate the conclusion that the Pakistani forces were not knowingly targeted and the action of its forces was legitimate within the Laws of Armed Conflict and within their Rules of Engagement,” it said.

The Pentagon said inadequate coordination by US and Pakistani military officers operating through the border coordination center -- including its reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer -- resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units.

“This, coupled with other gaps in information about the activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed to the tragic result,” the Pentagon said.

“For the loss of life -- and for the lack of proper coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses -- we express our deepest regret.  We further express sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government, and most importantly to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded,” the Department of Defense statement said.



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