London backs probe into Pakistani strikes

LONDON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Peace must be the top priority for the AfPak region, London said in backing an investigation into a NATO airstrike that killed several Pakistani soldiers.

Anonymous Afghan security officials, speaking to The Washington Post, said U.S. Special Operations forces, working alongside Afghan commandos, called in an airstrike when they came under fire on the Pakistani side of the border in a weekend raid. Islamabad said the strike was unprovoked, blaming NATO allies for the deaths of several Pakistani soldiers.


White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. President Barack Obama takes the deaths "very seriously" as NATO forces braced for possible Pakistani-backed insurgent reprisals. British Foreign Secretary William Hague, through his spokesman, expressed his condolences and said an investigation was warranted.

"It is more important than ever that all parties do their utmost to improve mutual peace and security, which will be to the benefit of all the countries in the region," Hague's office said in a statement.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad are at an all-time low, complicating the international mission in Afghanistan.


Islamabad said it was boycotting a conference on Afghanistan next week in Germany in protest of the NATO raid.

Pakistani Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan told the BBC the strike was a violation of national sovereignty.

"The Cabinet has unanimously agreed to boycott the Bonn conference and described the NATO strikes as a violation of all terms and conditions we have with NATO," she said.

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