Peshawar, Aug. 11 (Reuters): Pakistan said US forces shot dead two of its soldiers and wounded another today in an incident near the Afghan border.
A senior Pakistani official said the US forces mistook the Pakistani patrol for al Qaida or Taliban fighters.
“It was due to some misunderstanding,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Pakistan was the main supporter of Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime until the September 11, 2001, suicide attacks on the US, when it chose to back US efforts to drive the fundamentalists from power.
A statement from the Pakistani military’s public relations department said a strong protest had been lodged with the US authorities about the incident.
It said US forces opened fire on the Pakistani patrol at 0500 GMT at a border post in tribal Waziristan region, some 260 km southwest of the capital Islamabad.
The statement did not give any explanation for the shooting, the first such reported incident involving US troops operating in Afghanistan.
Pakistani forces and Afghan soldiers, assisted by a US-led coalition, patrol their own sides of the border which runs along a remote tribal belt where remnants of the ousted Afghan Taliban regime and al Qaida network are believed to be hiding.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are trying to settle a row over the poorly defined 2,450 km border, with the US mediating.
Relations between Kabul and Islamabad worsened in recent weeks with Afghan officials accusing Pakistani forces of intruding into Afghan territory, a charge strongly denied by Pakistan.
US and Afghan officials have also urged Pakistan to take steps to prevent remnants of the former Taliban regime from crossing into Afghanistan for attacks on the US-led coalition forces and their Afghan allies.
Pakistan denies accusations of allowing the Taliban to regroup on its soil or cross into Afghanistan, and says it has arrested hundreds of militants from al Qaida, the main suspect in the September 11 attacks in the US, and their Taliban allies.
Nato takes charge
In Kabul, Nato began its first operation outside Europe in its 54-year history today when it took command of peacekeepers in the Afghan capital.
At a ceremony in Kabul, German defence minister Peter Struck said Nato’s job was to ensure Afghanistan did not become a safe haven for terrorism again. “There is still a lot to be done,” he said.
“Afghanistan must not lapse back into anarchy or chaos. Afghanistan must not again become the home of global terror as was the case under the rule of the Taliban.”
Germany and the Netherlands had held joint command of the 5,000-strong International Security Assistance Force until the handover, which was attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Nato supreme allied commander Europe General James Jones.