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Pakistan army, NATO to probe airstrikes

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Oct 3, IRNA -- Pakistan Saturday sent an army team to Afghanistan for joint investigation into recent NATO airstrikes, which killed three Pakistani soldiers, official sources said.

Pakistan army says that NATO helicopters carried out three air strikes in its northwest tribal area of Kurrum Agency in a week, killing soldiers and injuring three others.

A NATO spokesman had defended the strikes and said that the action was taken after militants attacked an Afghan border post from the Pakistani side.

Pakistan on Friday lodged a formal protest with NATO in Brussels, calling for an end to such attacks in future, the Foreign Ministry said.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani told the parliament on Friday that Pakistan will consider other options if NATO continued intrusion into its sovereignty in future.

Pakistan had blocked supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan apparently as a protest over airstrikes by NATO helicopters in Pakistani territory.

Supplies for NATO troops suspended on third consecutive day on Saturday and witnesses said that hundreds of oil tankers and trucks are parked on the main highway between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Department on Friday said U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan haven't been affected by Pakistan's closure of a major supply route a day before and hoped that the supplies would resume soon.

Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington Hussain Haqqani said that NATO trucks will be allowed to enter Afghanistan after the ?security situation is improved’.

The 2-member Pakistan’s team will join NATO and American army personnel to investigate the NATO helicopters three air raids, officials said.

NATO had been insisted in the past that its troops had the mandate to carry out operations inside Afghanistan and that they would not cross the border into Pakistan.

Analysts believe that the NATO strikes inside Pakistan reflect change in the coalition policies.

The NATO airstrikes sparked harsh reaction in Pakistan from the government, parliament and opposition parties and observers say that it may affect relations between Islamabad and the U.S-led NATO/ISAF forces.

They refer to the blockade of NATO supplies by Pakistan, which can create problems for some 160,000 foreign troops. Some 70 per cent supplies are sent to Afghanistan from Pakistan, officials say.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30000270

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