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US Accepts Some Blame in Pakistani Border Incident

  • Sean Maroney

People offer funeral prayers of NATO airstrike attack victims in Peshawar, Pakistan, November 27, 2011.

People offer funeral prayers of NATO airstrike attack victims in Peshawar, Pakistan, November 27, 2011.

A U.S. military investigation found that U.S. forces acted "in self-defense and with appropriate force" after being fired on by Pakistani troops nearly a month ago along the poorly demarcated border between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency.

U.S. defense officials blame inadequate coordination by both Pakistani and U.S.-led forces for last month's coalition attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on Pakistan's side of the Afghan border.

"The investigating officer found that U.S. forces, given the information they had available to them at the time, acted in self-defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon," said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

He said U.S. officers shared incorrect mapping information with the Pakistanis, leading to a misunderstanding about the location of Pakistani military posts on the border.

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

Despite U.S. condolences, anti-American feelings in Pakistan remain high. The country's powerful military refused to participate in the investigation and has accused the United States of knowingly striking the border posts. Islamabad also indefinitely closed the two main overland routes NATO uses to send nonlethal supplies to Afghanistan.

The November incident follows several bilaterial crises in the past year, including the arrest in Pakistan of a CIA contractor and the covert U.S. raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

U.S. defense officials are urging the Pakistani military to help bridge what they call a "fundamental lack of trust" between the two allies as they move forward from the border incident.

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