Pakistani, United States troops in gun battle

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

A OH-58 helicopter.
Image: U.S. army.

According to media reports, ground troops with the Pakistani army exchanged gunfire with troops from the United States after Pakistani troop fired at two American OH-58 Kiowa helicopters on a patrol mission inside Afghanistan. Also included in the patrol were Afghan border police.

The helicopters were said to have been fired on by Pakistani troops when they flew near an outpost on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. U.S. troops on the ground then moved in on the outpost and began to exchange fire with Pakistani troops. No one on either side was injured, and no one on the helicopters were injured.

Officials for the Pakistani army said in a statement to the press that they only fired upon the helicopters after they "were well within" Pakistan's border. "On this, the helicopters returned fire and flew back." Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari states that his troops only fired "flares" and that the border is "so mixed" that mistakes could be made in determining ones location.

"Sometimes the border is so mixed that they don't realize they have crossed the border," added Zardari.

The U.S. military denies that there was ever a firefight stating that the U.S. helicopters never fired a single shot, despite the fact they were fired upon. The White House also denies the reports of the helicopters ever crossing into Pakistan.

"They were U.S. helicopters. The flight path of the helicopters at no point took them over Pakistan," said White House spokesman, Bryan Whitman, during a press conference. Whitman also said that a "very serious" situation was avoided.

Afghan military officials stated in a statement that they had two helicopters also with the U.S. patrol, which were fired upon, but also were not in Pakistani airspace.

"ISAF helicopters received small-arms fire from a Pakistan military checkpoint along the border near Tanai district, Khowst. At no time did ISAF helicopters cross into Pakistani airspace," said the Pakistani military in a statement.

Reports say the battle lasted nearly five minutes before both sides retreated. Pakistan's military has been ordered to fire on any vehicle, person or aircraft that is unauthorized to cross into Pakistan. That order was given after a similar incident on September 3. The U.S. has denied any other incidents have taken place.


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