Pakistan says its military fired on U.S. aircraft 'violating' its airspace

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Monday, September 22, 2008

A Pakistani soldier from the Commander 10 Corp.

According to Pakistani intelligence officials, at midnight last night, two United States military helicopters entered Pakistani airspace and were fired on by local troops, a second such event to occur this week. Pakistani officials call the incident a "violation" of its airspace.

The helicopters, suspected of chasing militants, reportedly left the North Waziristan tribal region they had entered and retreated to Afghanistan without returning fire. Pakistani troops have been given orders to open fire at any foreign troops crossing the border.

The U.S. carries out these cross-border incursions as a counter-terrorism effort. U.S. forces in the region are targeting Taliban "safeholds" in Pakistan where, they claim, Taliban forces retreat to re-equip and prepare for raids in Afghanistan. Earlier this month it was revealed that George W. Bush, President of the U.S., authorized military raids against insurgents in Pakistan without the approval of the country's government.

A senior Pakistani security official described the incident. "The helicopters were heading towards our border. We were alert and when they were right on the boundary line we started aerial firing. They hovered for a few minutes and went back," the official said. "About 30 minutes later they made another attempt. We retaliated again, firing in the air and not in their direction, from both the army position and the FC position, and they went back."

Tensions have risen between Pakistan and the U.S.. Recently elected Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari gave a warning that he would allow no one to violate the country's borders for any reason, and he is planning to meet with the United Nations and U.S. President Bush on Tuesday.

Major Murad Khan, a spokesperson for the Pakistani military, criticized the U.S.. He described the incident as a "border violation by the American helicopters."