20 Pakistani killed in attack near Afghan border (Lead)

June 11th, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 11 (IANS) Twenty people, including 11 security personnel, were killed when a border check-post of paramilitary forces in Mohmand agency in tribal areas of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, was destroyed Wednesday by coalition forces in that country in an aerial attack. An interior ministry official said nine civilians and 11 personnel of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, including one officer, were killed in the attack early Wednesday morning.

“The civilians were sleeping close to the check-post and died in the attack,” the official told IANS.

“Early Wednesday, the Frontier Corps’ border check-post at Gora Prai in Mohmand agency was destroyed by coalition forces in Afghanistan through an aerial attack in result of which 11 security forces personnel including one officer, died,” a statement by the military spokesman said Wednesday.

The spokesman condemned this “completely unprovoked and cowardly action” and regretted “the loss of precious lives of our soldiers”.

He also said that a strong protest was launched by the Pakistan Army and “we reserve the right to protect our citizens and soldiers against aggression”.

The foreign ministry, in a separate statement, also condemned the attack saying it was an open violation of the air space between the two countries.

According to BBC, the spokesman for the coalition forces confirmed the attack saying the firing was initiated from the other side of the border to which the coalition forces retaliated. He said that no one died on the Afghan side of the border and he was not aware about the casualties on the Pakistan side.

Reports said the incident followed intense fighting between Pakistani paramilitary troops deployed in Mohmand and Afghan forces who claimed the area was part of their territory, sources said.

The officials said the bodies were recovered and the troops were still holding on to the post. Officials said Pakistani forces repulsed an attempt by Afghan forces to capture strategic heights in the Soran Dara area, which borders the Afghan province of Nangarhar.

However, Pakistan Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omer said several troops from Afghanistan tried to enter Pakistani territory and the Taliban retaliated and made them run back.

He said that after the Taliban’s retaliation, the Afghan forces called aerial aid which attacked the paramilitary check-post.

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