NATO targets militants in Pakistan (Lead)

July 17th, 2008 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Taliban

Islamabad/Brussels, July 17 (IANS) NATO forces have attacked targets inside Pakistan after coming under fire from militants in the country’s North Waziristan region, the alliance has announced. The attack with helicopter gunships and artillery came after NATO Task Force (TF) Currahee in Afghanistan’s Paktika province “received multiple rocket attacks from militants inside Pakistan on July 15″, a statement posted on the NATO website said.

“The troops identified a qalat (mound) as the point of origin of the attacks and responded in self-defence with a combination of fire from attack helicopters and artillery into Pakistan,” the statement said.

The attack had been “coordinated” with the Pakistani military, NATO said.

“TF Currahee and the Pakistan military coordinated their operation closely from the outset. The Pakistani military agreed to assist and search the area if the border firing continued,” the NATO statement said.

The attack came even as NATO denied media reports about the build-up of hundreds of its troops in Afghanistan for an eventual incursion into Pakistani territory to fight Taliban insurgents.

NATO spokesperson James Appathurai told reporters in Brussels Wednesday that the reports published in Indian and Pakistani media were “inaccurate”.

“There is not, nor is there going to be an incursion of NATO troops into Pakistan. There is no planning for that and there is no mandate for that and there is no troop movement in that direction,” he maintained.

“Let me be very clear to the Indian press, the Pakistani press, the international press that there is no planning for, intention for incursion of NATO troops into Pakistan,” Appathurai said at his weekly press briefing.

NATO has some 50,000 troops under its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan.

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