According to Pakistani officials. The heated diplomatic row between Pakistan and NATO over the incident has escalated, with Pakistan ordering the US to vacate a key airbase in Baluchistan and closing NATO’s supply lines through Jamrud in Khyber and Chaman in Baluchistan.
Senior Western and Afghan officials told reporters on Sunday that a small group of US and Afghan forces on patrol in Kunar province were fired on first from positions inside Pakistani territory, prompting calls for close air support which wiped out the two Pakistani mountain posts. However, the Pakistani military remains adamant that the attack should have been avoided. Major General Athar Abbas, chief spokesman for the Pakistan military, told the Guardian that he did not believe ISAF or Afghan forces had received fire from the Pakistani side. “I cannot rule out the possibility that this was a deliberate attack by ISAF,” Abbas said. Afghan officials maintain that US and Afghan forces retaliated with airstrikes after coming under fire from the direction where the two military forts are located.
Pakistan’s unprecedented response to the attack in Mohmand is curious, especially given the countless reports over the past six months of Pakistani military forts shelling Afghan territory from positions in Mohmand, Dir, and Chitral. One such incident took place on June 18, prompting a similar US gunship raid against a Pakistani military post one mile inside Pakistani territory, also in Mohmand. The June attack came after a number of artillery shells fired from Pakistani territory struck homes in the Shunkrai area of the Sarkani (Sarkanay) district in eastern Kunar province. At the time, Kunar’s governor, Syed Fazlullah Wahidi, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the areas of Dangam, Shigal, and Sarkani were fired upon by Pakistani military positions for the better part of a week, with one strike killing four children in the Shigal district.
The Salala security posts are located in the Taliban-controlled Baizai area of Mohmand, a well-known hotbed of militant activity that has significantly impacted security on both sides of the border. Since March, numerous Taliban swarm attacks have ravaged Pakistani outposts in the region, prompting violent reactions from Pakistani forces who frequently shell suspected militant positions located in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces. Pakistani forces reportedly killed 65 Taliban fighters in the Baizai area in June alone. On Sept. 1, however, the Pakistani military claimed that a massive security operation had secured 80-85 percent of Mohmand and that 72 soldiers, including three officers, had been killed in the offensive against militants in the tribal agency. Continue reading