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Nato raid kills dozens in Pakistan

September 27, 2010

Rare manned pursuit of suspected fighters across the border from Afghanistan leads forces into Pakistani soil.

Two Nato helicopters have killed at least seven fighters on Pakistani soil after a pursuit across the border from Afghanistan, Nato forces say.

The number could be far high, as the Reuters news agency has reported that 30 people died in the missile attacks.

The two Apache attack helicopters from the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) crossed the border from eastern Afghanistan on Friday after the fighters attacked a remote Afghan security outpost in Khost province.

Sergeant Matt Summers, an Isaf spokesman, confirmed on Sunday that the helicopters had crossed into Pakistan in pursuit of fighters.

He did not say which countries’ forces were involved, but the United States is the only coalition member that uses Apaches.

Isaf also said in a statement issued late on Sunday that the helicopters were following its rules of engagement when they crossed into Pakistan.

Two Kiowa helicopters returned to the area on Saturday and killed at least four more fighters, the statement said.

The United States regularly uses pilotless drone aircraft for missile strikes in Pakistan’s borderlands, known to be a haven for groups including the Afghan Taliban who launch cross-border attacks from Pakistan’s northwest.

Manned flights

However, manned military flights across the border are extremely rare.

US forces make up the majority of Isaf troops in Afghanistan’s east. The drone flights have caused resentment in Pakistan, attributed to a rise in civilian casualties.

According to US officials, the pilotless drones are one of the most effective weapons against fighters, as air raids have killed senior Taliban and al-Qaeda figures.

Despite the presence of almost 150,000 foreign troops, violence is at its worst across Afghanistan since US-backed Afghan forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001.

The Taliban movement has spread out of traditional strongholds in the south and east into once relatively stable areas in the north and west.

Apart from the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network also operates extensively in Afghanistan’s east and has launched a series of bold attacks against foreign forces and Afghan government targets in the past year.

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