Skip to comments.US-led coalition fire kills civilians (North Waziristan, Pakistan - Afghan border)
Posted on 03/13/2008 1:08:23 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
TANGRAI, Pakistan - U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan fired across the border into Pakistan in a strike targeting Taliban militants, and the Pakistani army said Thursday that civilians were killed.
The attack illustrates Washington's concern the Taliban and al-Qaida are using Pakistan's lawless frontier as a base for attacks in Afghanistan.
But anger at civilian deaths could lead to a review by the incoming Pakistani government of the country's counterterrorism strategy and its U.S.-backed policy of using military force to root out militants.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan said troops used "precision-guided munitions" to strike a compound about a mile inside Pakistan on Wednesday.
Maj. Chris Belcher said the troops were responding to an "imminent threat" and that the coalition informed Pakistani authorities after the strike.
"We received reliable intelligence indicating senior Haqqani network members were in the compound at the time of the strike," Belcher said Thursday in Kabul.
Siraj Haqqani is a prominent Afghan militant. On Wednesday, a coalition statement accused him of organizing a suicide attack that killed two NATO soldiers at an Afghan government office on March 3. It said Haqqani "has become the most dangerous Taliban leader in Afghanistan."
In Tangrai, a village of about 40 houses surrounded by fields and mountains, residents led an Associated Press reporter to the rubble of the house hit in the attack. Only one of its four walls was standing amid a tangle of mud bricks, bedding and cooking pots.
"We are innocent, we have nothing to do with such things," said Noor Khan, a greengrocer who said the house was his family home.
He said six of his relatives four women and two boys died in the attack.
"We are poor people just trying to earn a living," he said.
The Pakistani army said four civilians two women and two children died. There was no way to resolve the discrepancy between the numbers.
It was not clear whether the coalition forces fired from the ground or the air or what weapons were used. Belcher said he could not detail the threat and had no information on casualties.
Pakistan's army, which has received billions of dollars from Washington to fight al-Qaida and the Taliban, initially said the incident was an accident.
Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, an army spokesman, said five artillery shells fired by coalition forces strayed into Pakistan's North Waziristan region. One shell hit a home in the village, killing two women and two children, he said.
Asked later about the coalition statement that the compound had been hit deliberately, Abbas said the government summoned a coalition representative to explain.
"We have called for an explanation of whatever statement they have given," Abbas said. Firing across the border "is a violation and second, civilians were killed," he said.
Asked whether militants were present, Abbas said: "We have asked them to explain how the civilian casualties occurred."
Pakistan has deployed approximately 90,000 troops to hunt down militants in its border regions. President Pervez Musharraf has sought to convince Pakistanis that they are fighting to protect their own country, not just for America's sake.
But with violence escalating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, many here hope the anti-Musharraf parties who triumphed in parliamentary elections last month will scale back military activities and seek dialogue with militant groups, whose influence has been growing.
Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said the new parliament would review its counterterrorism strategy.
"Pakistan's integrity and territorial sovereignty should be respected," Iqbal told the AP. "Killing of innocent people is highly deplorable and there should not be any repeat."
There have been several incidents in the past of coalition fire landing in Pakistani territory.
Some may be due to the poor demarcation of the long, rugged border. In June last year, a rocket fired during a battle between U.S.-led NATO forces and insurgents in Afghanistan struck a home in North Waziristan, killing 10 civilians.
But there have also been several cases where unmanned U.S. drones have fired missiles at suspected militant hideouts in Pakistan's border regions, including a strike in January that killed a senior al-Qaida commander.
U.S. military officials and soldiers have said on several occasions that they already have authority to pursue or fire on militants a short distance inside Pakistan.
Pakistani officials usually deny such incidents or voice complaints with no obvious consequences, leading many to believe that cross-border strikes are carried out with Islamabad's tacit blessing.
In that part of the world....civilians...militants...same diff.
Right...no one there is innocent.
***”We are innocent, we have nothing to do with such things,”***
When I was a prison guard I heard the exact same thing every day.
Unfortunately, the MSM, socialist democrats and other anti-Americans just eat this stuff up.
the terms “innocent” and “civilian” are probably the two most misused concepts in the msm during this war.
Yup...he’s a militant while detonating an IED, but when he goes home to his wife and children he becomes an innocent civilian.
al-Queda are ALL civilians. None wear uniforms, or carry arms openly
Hasbumallah Khan reports....
Sounds like they missed one. D*mn.
Nasty nasty now..
Yur a FResh-brewed at FR, Welcome! ;-)
Was it a wedding or dinner party or have they not decided yet?
This is a part of the world where fighting is done by tribes and clans; where the ambush and raid are the means of war; and where everyone and everything is a target. There may be civilians, but there may be no noncombatants.
How about this headline...
35,000 to 100,000 Civilians killed in bombing of city in 2 days
It just goes to show that most "journalist" were drinking beer and/or sleeping during history classes in college. Morons.