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Pakistan disagrees with airstrike findings

Dec. 23, 2011 at 6:50 AM
| License Photo

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The Pakistani army Friday rejected the U.S. military's findings on a NATO airstrike along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in which 24 of its soldiers died.

The army said the findings of the airstrike inquiry, as being reported by the news media, are "short on facts," the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

The APP quoted the army as saying a detailed response would be given when the formal report is received.

The soldiers died in a Nov. 26 airstrike in Pakistan's Mohmand tribal area, setting off huge protests in the country, further worsening already strained Pakistan-U.S. relations and escalating anti-American feelings in Pakistan, observers say.

The U.S. military report on the airstrike found that mistakes were made by both sides stemming from poor information and inadequate coordination.

The New York Times said the report also made two important findings that were bound to further aggravate the situation. Those findings said the Pakistanis fired first at a joint Afghan-American patrol and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them they were shooting at allied troops.

Pakistan has denied firing first, insisting the attack on its soldiers was unprovoked.

An irate Pakistan closed supply routes to NATO troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan also refused to attend an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany, earlier this month.

Pentagon spokesman George Little expressed "deepest regret" over the loss of lives and "for the lack of proper coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces." He expressed "sincere condolences" to the families of the dead soldiers and to the Pakistani government.

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