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Pakistani Military Disputes Circumstances of Recent US Airstrike

By VOA News
17 July 2008

Pakistan disputes U.S. media reports that Washington did not have the coordinates of a Pakistani border checkpoint where 11 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a recent U.S. airstrike.

A Pakistani military spokesman, Major-General Athar Abbas, said Thursday Pakistan had shared the coordinates of all such posts with U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan before the June 10 attack.

Both Pakistan and the United States are conducting investigations into the airstrike in the Mohmand region along the Pakistani-Afghan border.

Also Thursday, a top Taliban leader threatened to attack the government in North West Frontier Province unless it quits in five days.

A spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud said the government is responsible for deteriorating security situation in tribal areas and has failed to honor peace agreements it had signed with the Taliban.

The threat came after Pakistani security forces said they cleared two northwestern towns, Hangu and Kohat, of militants, after the Taliban killed 15 soldiers in the tribal region Saturday.

Security forces backed by helicopter gunships cleared militant areas and secured an irrigation dam. Authorities imposed a curfew and asked some residents to leave the area.

Violence has increased in the region bordering Afghanistan in recent weeks, with Taliban militants threatening to kill several Pakistani soldiers held hostage, unless seven of their comrades are released from prison.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.


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