Pakistan attacks US for 'cowardly' killing of soldiers

Relations between Washington and the new government in Islamabad have been dealt a severe blow after Pakistan angrily denounced the "unprovoked and cowardly" killing of 11 soldiers in a US air strike near the Afghan border.

The attack, which took place in the volatile tribal areas and is believed to have been carried out by a pilotless drone, is likely to sour ties between the Pakistani and American military and deepen public resentment of Pakistan's role in the so-called war on terror.

In its most vocal protest yet, Pakistan's military said the strike in Mohmand, which killed members of a paramilitary border force "had hit at the very basis of co-operation" in the fight against terrorism. It said it reserved "the right to protect our citizens and soldiers against aggression".

Yousaf Raza Gillani, the recently elected prime minister who leads a fragile coalition government, told Pakistan's parliament: "We will take a stand for sovereignty, integrity and self-respect, and we will not allow our soil [to be attacked]."

The government has been pursuing peace deals with tribal leaders and militants on the border and in the Swat valley, a move that has upset Kabul and Nato commanders in Afghanistan, who say it will lead to a surge in cross-border attacks.

While it is widely believed that previous US air strikes have killed Pakistani civilians, and possibly troops, only for responsibility to be taken by the Pakistanis themselves for political reasons, yesterday's condemnation by Islamabad broke new ground.

Precise details are still emerging. The soldiers killed, including one officer, were members of the Frontier Constabulary force manning a border post in the village of Gora Prai. The attack is reported to have taken place late on Tuesday, amid clashes between US coalition forces and militants from the Pakistani Taliban.

"Every indication we have is that this was a legitimate strike against forces that had attacked members of the coalition," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

In a statement issued from Afghanistan, the US-led coalition said it fired artillery and deployed pilotless drones in response to an attack. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said eight of its fighters had been killed after they launched an attack.

Talat Masood, a retired general turned liberal analyst, said the soldiers' deaths would "help the militants' propaganda" and were certain to "deepen the already existing public ill will towards the United States".

"For Pakistan, it represents a loss of sovereignty and shows helplessness," he added. "Despite all the public co-operation between the two countries, it reflects a level of distrust and lack of confidence. It shows that the US does not trust Pakistanis with their intelligence, insisting that they will strike instead of letting you strike."

Mr Masood said the US was more interested in the stability of the border region than the stability of Pakistan as a whole.

On Tuesday, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that al-Qa'ida leaders in the tribal areas were plotting fresh attacks on American targets and criticised Pakistan for failing to wipe them out. His comments came as the Rand Corporation, a US-based think-tank funded by the Defence Department, claimed Pakistani agents and members of the Frontier Constabulary were helping the Taliban – a charge Pakistan denies.

Pakistan's involvement in the effort to defeat al-Qa'ida and Taliban militants within its territory, which has cost the lives of over 1,000 Pakistani soldiers, has become deeply unpopular with the public. Opponents of President Musharraf argue that it has led to the spread of terrorist attacks into major cities.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Sport
footballLive: All the latest from today's Premier League matches
News
Nick Clegg playing 'Palin or prom queen'
newsNick Clegg on TV's The Last Leg
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
This weekend's 'Big Hero 6' by Disney Animation Studios
arts + ents
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee