Taliban vow to avenge US attack that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers

June 12th, 2008 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, June 12 (DPA) Taliban militants Thursday pledged to take revenge for the US airstrike that destroyed a Pakistani army post near the Afghan border and killed 11 paramilitary troops this week. “We have the right to defend our country. Any aggression by NATO forces inside Pakistan will be responded with full force,” said Asad, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The Pakistani border post came under fire in the remote tribal district of Mohmand agency when US planes targeted Taliban fighters fleeing after an attack on Afghan and NATO forces late Tuesday. Eleven troops from paramilitary Frontier Corps were killed and 13 injured.

According to Taliban’s claim, eight of their comrades also died in the airstrike that was strongly condemned by Pakistani officials.

Denying that Taliban fighters had attacked NATO forces from Pakistani soil, Islamabad condemned the US bombardment as a “cowardly attack,” using the harshest tones since the country joined US in its fight against Islamic extremists after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

The government also summoned US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson to the foreign office for a formal protest.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani said such attacks were totally “unacceptable” for Pakistan, a key US ally in the fight against extremists.

The US Defence Department called the airstrike near the border a legitimate act of self-defence.

“US forces, operating on the border of Pakistan in Afghanistan territory, came under attack from hostile forces and, in self-defence they called in an airstrike, which took out those forces that were attacking them,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said

Analysts said the bombing would further complicate US-Pakistan relations already strained since March, when the new Pakistani government opened peace talks with local Taliban who launch cross-border attacks on NATO-led international forces in Afghanistan.

Owais Ghani, governor of the North-West Frontier Province that borders Afghanistan, warned that Pakistan would be left “with no choice but to review (its) policy on war on terror if such attacks continue in future.”

Meanwhile, local media reported Thursday that US planes bombed some areas in tribal areas for the second straight night Wednesday.

No casualties were reported in the bombing on Zeba Mountain in South Waziristan by two US planes.

The continuing strikes and violation of Pakistani airspace have drawn heavy criticism in the South Asian nuclear-armed country.

Hundreds of people from Mosakhel and Safi tribes in Mohmand agency said they would raise an army of local fighters to defend the border.

“Our forces did not give a timely response to NATO attack on our soil, so we are compelled to organize an army of our own fighters to defend our borders,” Geo news channel quoted a tribal elder as saying.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |