Sat, Dec 17, 2011 - Page 1 News List

US air strikes deliberate, Pakistan says

Bloomberg and AFP, Washington

Pakistan stood firm on Thursday in charging that US-led forces deliberately carried out air strikes that killed 24 soldiers and led Islamabad to shut critical NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s embassy in Washington invited reporters to a briefing at which officials showed images and maps that they said supported Islamabad’s case, despite US insistence that the Nov. 26 incident was a regrettable mistake.

A Pakistani embassy official said that NATO forces could not have mistaken the two border posts on the Afghan border for bases of Islamic extremists such as the Taliban because they stood on high ground and had structures.

“It’s in plain view on the top of a barren ridge, a place that terrorists perhaps would not be inclined to use as a hideout,” said the official, who requested that his name not be used.

US officials say they are investigating the air strikes, but have suggested that Pakistan gave the go-ahead for the air strikes after NATO forwarded coordinates of the targets.

The Pakistani embassy official said that Pakistan had received coordinates, but said that they were incorrect and covered an area about 15km to the north of the incident.

Another Pakistani official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bombardment continued for more than an hour after a coalition commander said the aircraft had been ordered to withdraw.

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