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Pakistan army believes NATO attack planned: reports


(Reuters) – A
senior Pakistani military officer said a NATO air strike killing 24
Pakistani troops on the Afghan border last month was pre-planned and
warned of more attacks, comments likely to fuel tension with the United
States.

Major General Ashfaq Nadeem, director general of military operations, was also quoted by newspapers on Friday as saying that Pakistan, a strategic U.S. ally, would deploy an air defense system along the border to prevent such attacks.
Nadeem
made the remarks to a Senate committee on defense on Thursday. Senator
Tariq Azim, who attended the briefing, confirmed to Reuters that Nadeem
had made the comments.
The Daily
Times said Nadeem described the attack as a plot. Another newspaper
quoted him as saying it was a “pre-planned conspiracy” against Pakistan.
“We can expect more attacks from our supposed allies,” the Express Tribune quoted Nadeem as saying at the senate briefing.
U.S. and Pakistani officials have offered differing initial accounts of what happened.
Pakistan
said the attack was unprovoked, with officials calling it an act of
blatant aggression — an accusation the United States has rejected.
Two
U.S. officials told Reuters that preliminary information from the
ongoing investigation indicated Pakistani officials at a border
coordination centre had cleared the air strike, unaware they had troops
in the area.
Nadeem ruled out the
possibility that NATO forces may have thought they were firing on
militants, who often move across the porous frontier and attack Western
troops.
One newspaper reported that
he told the Senate committee that militants do not leave themselves
exposed on mountain tops, like the ones where the Pakistani border posts
were located.
Senator Azim also
quoted Nadeem as saying that NATO helicopters singled out one army major
as he was crossing from one border post to another after losing
communications, and this also led the military to conclude the attack
was planned.
Pakistan responded to the attack by suspending supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Idle
drivers of trucks carrying fuel and other supplies to the neighboring
country fear being attacked by Pakistani Taliban militants who oppose
cooperation with NATO.
Militants
fired a rocket-propelled grenade at such trucks in the southwestern city
of Quetta in Baluchistan province on Thursday night, setting fire to 29
vehicles, police officials said.
Washington,
which sees Pakistan as critical to its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan
ahead of a combat troop pullout in 2014, has tried to sooth fury over
the NATO incident.
President
Barack Obama called Pakistan’s president to offer condolences over the
strike that provoked a crisis in relations between the two countries. He
stopped short of a formal apology.
Pakistan boycotted an international conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan because of the NATO attack.
U.S.-Pakistani ties were already frayed after the secret U.S. raid in May that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

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