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Jun 12, 2008 at 01:01pm IST

US airstrike killed 11 of our soldiers, says Pakistan

New Delhi: The Pakistan government has condemned Tuesday night's airstrike by US forces that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers on its border with Afghanistan.

While the Pentagon has defended its attack, as a legitimate strike, Pakistan says it will take up the matter through diplomatic channels.

The Pakistani troops were killed at a border post in the Mohmand Agency region, which is a disputed area near Afghanistan's Kunar Province.

PAK-ING A PUNCH: Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousef Reza Gilani expressed his outrage in Parliament. (IBN)

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousef Reza Gilani expressed his outrage in Parliament.

“I asked the foreign ministry to protest immediately, and I myself, with all of you present here, strongly condemn it (the strike). We will take a stand for the sovereignty, dignity and self-respect of this country and will not allow anyone to use our soil, and we fully condemn it,” Gilani said.

However, Pakistan's army and the US military gave widely differing accounts on Wednesday regarding the clash between the troops.

While their forces were just a few hundred yards apart, a huge gulf existed in their views of events — underscoring the mutual suspicion between two uneasy allies in the war against international terrorism.

The alliance is unpopular among Pakistanis, whose newly elected civilian government is negotiating with some militants in hopes of curbing a surge in violence. Western officials fear peace deals could give more space for Taliban and al-Qaida militants to operate.

US officials said three aircraft launched about a dozen bombs against insurgents attacking into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

The Pentagon said it was too early to say whether the airstrike killed the Pakistani troops, as claimed by Pakistan's army, although the US Embassy in Islamabad expressed regret over the deaths.

American officials defended the air attack, saying the US-led coalition in Afghanistan was retaliating after its troops came under fire about 200 yards inside Afghan territory.

But Pakistan's army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, rejected the claim that insurgents attacked from inside Pakistan or from the direction of the Pakistani border post. He also denied that the US military gave prior notice before it opened fire.

(With agency inputs)

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