Tuesday 28 March 2017

US admits responsibility for Pakistan raid deaths

Rob Crilly in Islamabad and Alex Spillius in Washington

THE US has conceded for the first time that it bears significant responsibility for a Nato air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, but stopped short of an apology.

The Pentagon expressed "deepest regret" and "sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government and, most importantly, to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded".

It admitted that poor co-ordination between US and Pakistani military officers, including reliance on "incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer", resulted in a misunderstanding about the location of Pakistani units.

But the Pentagon defended the actions of its troops and blamed Pakistan for failing to share co-ordinates of its border posts during the incident on November 26, and said they had acted in self-defence and responded with "appropriate force".

"This, coupled with other gaps in information about the activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed to the tragic result," the statement said.

Destroyed

It said that a "fundamental lack of trust" between the two countries was a big factor in the incident.

American and Afghan troops believed they were being attacked by militants and called in an air strike. However, two Pakistani border posts were destroyed.

The US military investigation concluded that there was no intentional effort to target the Pakistani military or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials.

A separate Nato investigation found that both the alliance and Pakistani forces made mistakes in the incident, and that forces were unable "to properly coordinate their locations and actions, both before the operation and during the resulting engagement".

With relations between the US and Pakistan already at a historic low, the handling of the report has further inflamed tensions.

Pakistan's military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said he was angry at Washington trying to "spin" the story with selective briefings to journalists. Pakistan has been pushing for an apology from President Barack Obama. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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