Fri, Jun 13, 2008 - Page 5 News List

US releases footage of border clash


The US-led coalition in Afghanistan released footage yesterday of a skirmish with militants that Pakistan claims resulted in a deadly airstrike on one of its border posts.

Pakistan says 11 of its troops died when a bomb fell on the Gorparai post in the Mohmand frontier region on Tuesday. It lodged a strong diplomatic protest and called the strike a “completely unprovoked and cowardly act.”

But Pakistani and US officials have given widely differing accounts of an event that threatens to further sour relations between key allies in Washington’s war on terror.

To support its version, the coalition yesterday took the unusual step of releasing excerpts of a video shot by a surveillance drone circling above the mountainous battle zone.

The grainy, monochrome images show about a half-dozen men firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades from a ridge at coalition troops off camera in the valley below.

According to the voiceover, the ridge is in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, about 200m from the Pakistan border and close to the Gorparai checkpoint.

The voiceover says the coalition forces were on a reconnaissance mission and returned fire in a bid to break contact and move to a point where a helicopter could pluck them to safety.

It shows the “anti-Afghan militants” moving to a position identified as inside Pakistan and the impact of a bomb which the voiceover says killed two of them.

The survivors then fled into a ravine, where three more bombs were dropped, nearly three hours after the clash began. The voiceover said all the militants were killed.

One of the bombs fell off screen, and US officials said about a dozen bombs were dropped in all.

On Wednesday, US diplomats offered apologies for the reported casualties.

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