Pakistan fired warning shots on two US helicopters that it said crossed into the country’s airspace from Afghanistan, two weeks after the nation’s army chief said cross-border incursions wouldnt be tolerated.
The Pentagon and NATO denied the aircraft flew into Pakistan. NATO, which has soldiers in neighboring Afghanistan fighting supporters of the Taliban, said the helicopters received “small-arms fire” from a military border checkpoint. Pakistan’s president said the shots were warning “flares.”
“They’re just to make sure that they know they crossed the border line, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told reporters today before meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in New York. “Sometimes the border is so mixed that they don’t realize that they crossed the border.
Pakistan’s military has blamed Afghan-based coalition forces led by the US for a Sept. 3 attack that killed seven civilians in the South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
The US is pressing Pakistan’s new government to be more aggressive in its war against terrorism, saying the South Asian nation isn’t doing enough to combat militancy in its tribal region, where Taliban and al-Qaeda are regrouping.
… The helicopters in today’s incident didn’t return the fire and “immediately contacted Pakistani authorities,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today in Washington.
… “At no time did helicopters from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force cross into Pakistans airspace,” NATO said in a press release from Kabul. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads the ISAF in Afghanistan.
“ISAF forces and the Pakistani military are working together to resolve the matter, the release said.
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