View Full Version : Pakistani Officer "Killed U.S. Soldier" As Peace Meeting Erupts In Gunfire

05-14-2007, 07:15 PM
Pakistani officer ‘killed US soldier’ as peace meeting erupts in gunfire


(Gold9472: "When the results of the talks were announced..." What were the results, and why were "Western Diplomats [...] keen to play down the violence, insisting that the identity of the attackers was unknown?")

Anthony Lloyd in Kabul and Zahid Hussain in Islamabad

An American soldier was killed inside Pakistan yesterday after an attempted peace meeting on one of the world’s most sensitive borders erupted in gunfire.

Several other Nato troops were wounded amid sensational claims that Pakistani forces were responsible. Pakistan said that one of its troops also died in the clash, but blamed the shooting on militants. The meeting had been convened after two days of skirmishes across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan left 13 dead. US and Afghan forces had travelled by helicopter into the lawless tribal area to meet their Pakistani counterparts.

General Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Defence Ministry, claimed that a Pakistani army officer jumped up and shot at US troops during the course of heated negotiations.

“The meeting became tense and one of the Pakistani officers stood up and opened fire on the American and Afghan delegates,” General Azimi told reporters in Kabul. “The Americans and Afghan soldiers returned fire and killed some Pakistani soldiers.”

Pakistan denied General Azimi’s version of events, saying that those at the meeting had come under fire from unknown “miscreants” – the term Islamabad uses for militants – after it had ended. Nato confirmed that there had been an incident with casualties, and that it was investigating.

The incident and the conflicting versions of what happened underline the diplomatic sensitivities involved in Islamabad – a key US ally since the 9/11 terrorist attacks – explaining how an American soldier came to die on its soil.

Nato and Pakistani officials said that the incident occurred near Teri Mangel in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region. Pakistan said that one of its troops had also died in the clash.

Military officials from Nato, Pakistan and Afghanistan regularily meet to discuss border issues as part of the tripartite commission established to improve security and alleviate hostilities between the two countries. Pakistan and Afghanistan have a long-standing dispute concerning their shared border.

On Sunday, in the latest incidents between their security forces, clashes escalated into an artillery bombardment, with each side accusing the other of border violations. Afghanistan claimed that two children were among the dead.

Rahmattullah Rahmad, the governor of the Afghan province of Paktia, which lies opposite Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region, offered a slightly different explanation. He said that he and a number of US and Afghan troops were flown to the border by helicopter. After discussions with their Pakistani counterparts they were returning to the helicopters when they were fired upon by a Pakistani soldier, he said.

“When the results of the talks were announced and the delegation was getting back on helicopters, a Pakistani militia officer opened fire at us.”

Western diplomats were keen to play down the violence, insisting that the identity of the attackers was unknown.

Pakistan announced that it would launch a high-level inquiry into the shooting.

In a seperate development the Taleban’s leadership council, led by Mullah Mohammad Omar, announced that it had appointed Mullah Bakht Mohammad, the younger brother of Mullah Dadullah, to replace him. Dadullah, the Taleban’s senior field commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a battle in Helmand on Saturday.

On the margins
— The Durand Line, established between Afghanistan and British India in 1893, still serves as an unofficial border between territory disputed by Pakistan and Afghanistan

— The line deliberately cut through tribal territory, as the British hoped this would divide and weaken rebellious tribes

— Approximately 1 million of the 3.3 million Afghan refugees who fled the war of 2001 remain in Pakistani territory, most refusing repatriation