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Friday 23 December 2011

Pakistan rejects US air strike deaths report

Pakistan rejects US air strike deaths report

Pentagon spokesman George Little expressed the "deepest regret" for the loss of life
Pakistan has rejected the findings of a US report into an air strike on the Afghan border last month that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The report concluded both sides had made mistakes, blaming poor information and inadequate co-ordination between US and Pakistani forces on the ground.
The Pakistani military said the report was "short on facts".
Pakistan closed its border with Afghanistan after the incident, cutting off vital Nato supply lines.
In a short statement, the Pakistani military said it did not agree with the findings of the report "as being reported in the media".
"The inquiry report is short on facts," it said.
The statement said the military would present a more detailed response "as and when the formal report is received".
Islamabad, a vital partner in the fight against militants in the region, has demanded a formal US apology.
In its report, the US military admitted it bore significant responsibility for the deaths in Mohmand tribal agency on 26 November, and expressed "deep regret" for the "tragic loss of life".

US-Pakistan downturn

  • 30 Sept 2010: Nato helicopters kill two Pakistani soldiers, prompting nearly two-week border closure in protest
  • 22 April 2011: Supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan halted for three days in protest over drone attacks
  • 2 May: US announces Bin Laden's death and says Pakistan not warned of raid
  • 2 June: Top US military chief Adm Mike Mullen admits "significant" cut in US troops in Pakistan
  • 10 July: US suspends $800m of military aid
  • 22 Sept: Outgoing US Adm Mullen accuses Pakistan of supporting Haqqani militant group in Afghanistan; denied by Pakistan
"Inadequate co-ordination by US and Pakistani military officers operating through the border co-ordination centre - including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer - resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units," it said.
"This, coupled with other gaps in information about the activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed to the tragic result."
In a news briefing later at the Pentagon, spokesman George Little said: "For the loss of life and for the lack of proper co-ordination between US 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 Defence Department has said lessons must be learned and that it hopes Pakistan and the US can work together to improve their mutual level of trust.
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Kabul says it appears from the report that Nato officials did not inform Pakistan of the operation in advance, after fears that the Pakistani military were leaking information to insurgents.
Pakistan responded furiously to the killings of its soldiers.
As well as shutting its border with Afghanistan, which Nato relies on heavily for deliveries of fuel, ammunition and other supplies, it also refused to attend the Bonn conference on Afghanistan earlier this month

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