From Afghanistan, NATO Shells Militants In Pakistan

From Afghanistan, NATO Shells Militants In Pakistan
June 23rd, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: From Afghanistan, NATO Shells Militants In Pakistan

From Afghanistan, NATO Shells Militants In Pakistan
New York Times
June 23, 2008
Pg. 11
By Abdul Waheed Wafa and Dexter Filkins
KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO forces in Afghanistan shelled guerrillas in Pakistan in two separate episodes on Sunday, as escalating insurgent violence appeared to be eroding the alliance’s restraint along the border.
NATO officials said they had retaliated against rocket and artillery attacks launched by militants from sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan, where they operate freely. The insurgents’ attacks, launched into Khost and Paktika Provinces, killed four Afghan civilians, at least two of them children, Afghan and NATO officials said. Casualty figures for Pakistan were not available.
The firing by NATO forces into Pakistani territory followed an American airstrike on a Pakistani border post earlier this month that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani government denounced the strike, and the American government expressed regret, but it is still not entirely clear what happened.
Relations between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan were already extraordinarily tense. American and Afghan officials say the surging violence in Afghanistan is in large part caused by the sanctuaries that militants enjoy in Pakistan. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have assembled in Pakistan, most of them in the area along the remote and mountainous frontier where the government exercises no authority.
In those sanctuaries, the militants are free to train, regroup and plan new attacks in Afghanistan. American and NATO commanders have expressed frustration at the violence caused by the militants who cross from Pakistan, but they have so far been refused permission to conduct military operations there.
Last week, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan threatened to send troops across the border to attack the militants if the Pakistani government did not prevent them from crossing the border. The Pakistani government has never exercised more than nominal control over long stretches of its border with Afghanistan, and Pakistani leaders say they do not have enough troops to secure the area.
The first attack came shortly after midnight in Khost Province, where militants inside Afghanistan fired 13 rockets, apparently at a base for the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO force charged with maintaining order in Afghanistan. One rocket hit the base, causing no casualties, but another killed an Afghan civilian, officials said.
Later, in a second volley, five rockets sailed in from Pakistan, striking the village of Kundai, where a woman and her two children were killed, officials said. The security forces there located the militants’ firing battery several hundred yards inside Pakistan and returned fire.
Officials from the security force gave no details of their own artillery barrage, except to say that Pakistani officials were immediately informed of the shelling. Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas of the Pakistani military said he knew nothing about any incidents along the border.
“We need to defend ourselves,” said Gen. Carlos Branco, a spokesman for the security force.
In the second episode, an Afghan Army post in Paktika Province came under artillery fire from Pakistan. The international security forces located the firing battery on the other side of the border and returned fire. Officials provided no other details.
Also on Sunday, the governor of Kunar Province in Afghanistan reported that a rocket from Pakistan struck a hospital on Saturday in the town of Asadabad in Kunar. The same day, an American bomb landed on the border near a Pakistani post in North Waziristan during fighting with militants, General Abbas said.
Abdul Waheed Wafa reported from Kabul, and Dexter Filkins from Peshawar, Pakistan.

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