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NATO brands lethal attack on Pakistani border troops 'legitimate'

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Dec 22, IRNA -- NATO on Thursday defended last month's deadly attack on Pakistani troops in the Afghan border region, labeling it 'legitimate.'

'A thorough review of the operational plan and communications during the incident substantiate the conclusion that the Pakistani forces were not knowingly targeted and the action of our forces was legitimate within the Laws of Armed Conflict and within their Rules of Engagement,' the western military alliance said in a statement released in Brussels.

'The combined international and Afghan force was initially fired upon by unidentified forces, then believed not to be Pakistani military, and legitimately responded in self-defence. The investigation has ascertained that a series of mistakes were made on both sides in failing to properly co-ordinate their locations and actions, ...,' NATO went on to say.

Pakistan had accused NATO of intentionally bombing its troops.

'The combined force did not knowingly fire at the Pakistani forces. The investigation has substantiated that close air support was employed in self-defence in response to intense, heavy machine gun and mortar fire initiated by what turned out to be Pakistan forces near the border in the vicinity of Salala,' the western military pact said.

The lethal NATO attack on Pakistani soldiers killed reportedly as many as 28 soldiers.

The deadliest friendly fire incident since the start of the decade-long Afghan war also prompted Pakistan to ban Nato supply trucks from crossing into Afghanistan and to issue an order demanding the US quit the remote Shamsi airbase, from which the US has operated some unmanned drone aircraft.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30726642

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