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    NATO Helicopters, Pakistan Troops Exchange Fire at Afghan Border

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    NATO officials in Afghanistan say Pakistani troops have fired on NATO helicopters flying inside Afghanistan.  VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad, where    Pakistani military officials insisted the helicopters crossed into Pakistan and then border guards and the helicopters traded fire.

    Pakistan army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the incident occurred when two helicopters flying in Afghanistan crossed into Pakistani airspace, right at a Pakistani security post.

    "They did cross and flew over the post, they passed by the post and then the post opened fire.  This was an anticipatory warning fire by the border post," he said.

    General Abbas said the helicopters returned fire and then returned to Afghanistan.

    In Kabul, a NATO spokeswoman said the helicopters never crossed into Pakistani territory. 

    "ISAF helicopters received small arms fire from a Pakistan military checkpoint along the border near Tanai district, Khost, September 25 while conducting routing operations in Afghanistan," she said.  "At no time did ISAF helicopters cross into Pakistani airspace." 

    The NATO spokeswoman said the helicopters were not damaged, and both sides said no casualties were reported.

    The incident is the first time top officials on either side have confirmed a shooting incident involving NATO helicopters and Pakistani border forces.  Pakistani intelligence officials in the border regions have reported at least two other similar shooting incidents in recent weeks, but both NATO and the Pakistani military later denied the claims.

    The Pentagon said the Pakistani military must explain why the incident occurred.

     

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