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NATO blames 'both sides' for its deadly airstrike on Pakistan base

RIA Novosti

04:10 23/12/2011

MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - NATO said its airstrike on a Pakistani base that killed 24 servicemen and further spoiled ties between Islamabad and Washington, was a result of mistakes made by both sides.

Ties between U.S. and Pakistan, which worsened after U.S. special forces killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a special operation, were further strained by a NATO air strike on a checkpoint in the Mohmand tribal area in northwest Pakistan in late November.

NATO said the deadly fire was caused by "a series of mistakes" made on both sides, who failed to "properly coordinate their locations and actions, both before the operation and during the resulting engagement."

The Pentagon echoed NATO's findings in its statement, saying the incident was "a result of inadequate coordination between U.S. and Pakistani military officers operating through the border coordination center."

The statement also blames Pakistani forces for being first to open fire.

"U.S. forces acted in self-defense and responded with appropriate force after being fired upon," the statement reads, adding that the probe revealed "no intentional effort to target people or places known to be part of the Pakistani military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials."

Pakistani authorities rejected the findings of the U.S. investigation.

"Pak Army does not agree with the findings of the US/NATO inquiry as being reported in the media," New York times quoted a text statement from Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Pakistan armed forces.

The Pakistani army official criticized the inquiry report for being "short on facts."

The deadly incident led to closing one of NATO's key supply routes to Afghanistan via Pakistan, the so-called northern supply route through the Khyber Pass and Torham border post and the closure of a U.S. airbase.

CBS News said, citing Pakistani officials, that the country also mulls plans to slap millions of dollars by introducing new charges for future NATO military supplies through its territory. Fees will be introduced to cover costs such as "inspection of cargo" and "maintenance of infrastructure" worn down by trucks.

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