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'Mistakes' led to Pakistan attack

An investigation into a Nato attack that killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border has concluded that a combination of mistrust and bad maps led to the air strikes on the two outposts in Pakistan, officials have said.

A Nato official said: "The report says we recognise we made mistakes, and that mistakes were also made by the Pakistanis. We have a lot of work to do to improve co-ordination, and we've already implemented steps to do that."

The US Defence Department said the investigation found US forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, reacted in self-defence and with appropriate force after being fired upon from the direction of the Pakistani border in the November 26 incident.

"Inadequate co-ordination by US and Pakistani military officers operating through the border co-ordination centre - including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer - resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units," said the statement.

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

Nato, Afghanistan and Pakistan forces use the joint border control centres to share information and co-ordinate security operations.

Since the attack on the Pakistani military outposts in mountainous east Kunar province, the Pakistani government has shut down Nato supply routes to Afghanistan and thrown the US out of its Shamsi Air base in south-western Baluchistan province.

The base was used to maintain drones used in strikes against insurgents hiding in safe havens in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt on the Afghan frontier.

"For the loss of life - and for the lack of proper co-ordination between US and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses - we express our deepest regret. We further express 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," the statement said.

It added that the military's focus would now be to learn from the mistakes and "take whatever corrective measures are required to ensure an incident like this is not repeated".


From Belfast Telegraph