US Military: Clash on Afghan-Pakistani border was with Taliban

Strike footage of the clash along the Afghan-Pakistan border

The US military has released footage from a unmanned aerial vehicle detailing the controversial June 10 battle against Taliban forces right on the Afghan-Pakistani border. The US military maintains it fired at Taliban forces, while the Pakistani government continues to maintain US airstrikes targeted an outpost manned by the Frontier Corps and killed Pakistani paramilitary troops.

The US military said the clash began in Kunar province, less than 200 yards from the Pakistani border near the Garparai checkpoint. The fighting, which lasted for three hours, moved across the border as US warplanes pursued the Taliban as they retreated into Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency.

The video details a squad of Taliban fighters occupying a fighting position on a ridgeline right across the border from Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency. Coalition forces, likely a Special Forces team operating to interdict Taliban fighters crossing the border, were on a "reconnaissance mission" on the border when they took fire from the Taliban position.

The Taliban can be seen engaging US forces with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Coalition forces attempted to break contact with the Taliban and reach an extraction point where they could be picked up from a helicopter.

After 45 minutes of fighting, a Warrior Alpha unmanned aerial vehicle arrived to survey the fighting and provide imagery to direct air and artillery support. Twelve guided bombs were dropped on the Taliban forces as they fled the ridgeline and attempted to move to safety across the border into Pakistan. Seven Taliban fighters were confirmed killed in the fighting. "At no time did Coalition ground forces cross into Pakistan," the US military stated.

The US military repeatedly stated that no "military structures or outposts" were in the vicinity of the bombings, refuting the Pakistani military's statements that a paramilitary Frontier Corps outpost inside Pakistan was hit. The Pakistani military said 11 of its paramilitaries, including an officer, were killed in an airstrike.

The Pakistani government maintains the US military struck a paramilitary outpost in Mohmand. A Pakistani military spokesman "condemned this completely unprovoked and cowardly act on the post and regretted the loss of precious lives of our soldiers."

"A strong protest has been launched by the Pakistan Army and we reserve the right to protect our citizens and soldiers against aggression," the spokesman continued.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and members of parliament condemned the attack. "No one will be allowed to carry out such attacks in Pakistan," Gilani said. The US ambassador was summoned to speak to the Pakistani foreign minister on June 11. The United Nations has begun to investigate the incident.

Cross-border incidents likely to continue as Pakistan abdicates control of its borders to the Taliban

The June 10 incident highlights the deteriorating situation along the Afghan-Pakistan border, particularly in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas and the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. The Pakistani government continues to negotiate "peace agreements" with the Taliban.

This year, the government signed peace deals in Swat, Bajaur, Malakand, and Mohmand. Negotiations are under way in Kohat and Mardan. The Taliban are not required to halt cross-border attacks, and Taliban leaders have stated they would continue to conduct strikes in Afghanistan. Also, in the case of the North Waziristan agreement, al Qaeda fighters are allowed to remain in the region "as long as they pledge to remain peaceful."

The loyalty of the Pakistani security forces has also come into question. A recent study by the RAND Corporation said Pakistan security forces, particularly the paramilitary Frontier Corps, and its intelligence services are aiding the Taliban in conducting attacks inside Afghanistan.

As the security situation along the border further destabilizes, US and Afghan forces will be forced to strike along the border to prevent infiltration of Pakistani Taliban forces.


READER COMMENTS: "US Military: Clash on Afghan-Pakistani border was with Taliban"

Posted by C. Jordan at June 12, 2008 8:47 PM ET:

Why is Pakistan claiming their own troops are getting killed? Are they simply trying to save face?

Posted by Contra1 at June 12, 2008 9:06 PM ET:

As gruesome as task I had not considered until now ... Who collects the remains of the enemy after the battle? How much effort is there invested in ID of the enemy? It must be tough to collect bits and pieces or a corpse that is BBAR. Purely wild conjecture at this point but ... Will the Paks have any shame if is revealed that some of there claimed 11 casulties died in Afganistan after firing on coalition forces?

Posted by tyrone at June 12, 2008 10:31 PM ET:

My guess is that the Islamist factions within the Pakistani govt are in cohoots with the Taliban to varying degrees and this is typical propaganda. Then some non-Islamist politicians may pick it up because it makes good political fodder to stand up the the US. There is also the fog of war and lack of information and Taliban control of information coming out of these territories. The propaganda is likely because the Taliban have a muchly improved survivability if they can safely fire from within Pakistan, or retreat back into Pakistan and not be pursued. A further guess is that the Taliban are upset that they were attacked after retreating back into Pakistan and concocted some of this brouhaha to attempt to make sure the Coalition must think twice about "hot pursuit". I seem to remember dramatic protest at the drones firing at the Al Qaeda and Taliban within the territories until the realization came that the rules of engagement would not prevent us from targeted strikes against our enemies with whom we are at war just because they chose to hide across a border. The same realization will occur as regards hot pursuit as well in my estimation. But in the meantime, they will do everything within their power to raise a political outcry so that the Coalitions hands are tied once the Taliban retreat into Pakistan. So they lie about the exact situation to try to make the US look as bad as possible and create as much blowback as possible, when, apparently, there were no Pakistani forces involved at all in this situation. Who knows, maybe the Taliban overran a border post and killed the Pakistani para forces before attacking the Coalition. One just never knows in these situations, too much spin all along the line of information flow. Takes a lot of sifting to try to work it out and try to get to the truth. In general I trust the Coalition reporting first, until proven otherwise. There is so much exageration and creating out of whole cloth in what the Al Qaeda and Taliban put out, that one has to throw out the most obvious half of it and then look for the kernel of truth in the other half, if there even is one.

Posted by C. Jordan at June 12, 2008 10:42 PM ET:

From tyrone

"A further guess is that the Taliban are upset that they were attacked after retreating back into Pakistan and concocted some of this brouhaha to attempt to make sure the Coalition must think twice about "hot pursuit"."

I think you hit the nail on the head.

Posted by davidp at June 13, 2008 1:11 AM ET:

My first thought was, the frontier corps are local and so compromised with the Taliban, the dead could even have been simultaneously members of both. Supporting the frontier corps looks to have been a mistake to me.

"There is so much exageration and creating out of whole cloth in what the Al Qaeda and Taliban put out, that one has to throw out the most obvious half of it and then look for the kernel of truth in the other half, if there even is one" - I entirely agree, and this applies to what comes from the Pakistan government about events in the NW frontier too.

There is no need for complicated explanations of all the details in the Pakistani report/complaint. People shot at US forces, the shooters died. Dont complain, smile (either happily, or because you're looking into the nasty end of a very efficient U.S. gunbarrel).

Posted by Matthew at June 13, 2008 6:43 AM ET:

What bothers me the most about this situation...

No one, including the "mighty" UN has bothered to condem the Pakistan govt or military for allowing cross border incursions into Afganistan.

If the front corp out post was so close to the point of contact, what the hell were the troops maning the post doing?

I don't like this at all...

Posted by Tom at June 13, 2008 8:17 AM ET:

Here's the bottom line...The Paki's have a lot of gall calling anyone 'cowards' after allowing al Qaeda and the Taliban to peacefully exist within the borders of their country. Please continue bombing the enemy wherever he runs, and if more Pakistani troops get caught in the crossfire, then maybe their government can conduct cease-fire negotiations with us. P.S. I don't speak or write even one word of Afgani, nor am I or my children or my grandchildren likey to in the future, but you, Abdullah, will be able to improve your English. That's YOUR lesson for the day...Ta-Ta

Posted by TS Alfabet at June 13, 2008 8:58 AM ET:

Well... let the Pakistanis vent a little. It must be humiliating for them to be unable to control their own territory (generously assuming that they want to do so). The peace deals with the Taliban are just further humiliation for them, particularly when the suicide bombers go right on targeting Pakistani security forces. Let's have a little sympathy for the devil, so to speak: what can they do? The elected government has no will or means to eradicate the Taliban. The ISI and Army are largely compromised with islamic radicals. The Pak govt is fighting for its political life right now.

All sympathy aside, this should not mean that we cease these cross-border actions, not for one minute. A Nation that cannot (or will not) control the integrity of its borders cannot complain when others do it for them. (This has uncomfortable ramifications for the U.S. Southwest, but that's a different animal...). In the end, there is nothing to be gained from ceasing cross-border strikes at this point. If someone has inside information on how the Pakistanis are helping us in Afghanistan, please post it. Otherwise I think the saying applies to Pakistan: with friends like these, who needs enemies?

As to Abdullah... the Soviets? That's a joke, right? Please go back to your hrabi forum.

Posted by karensky at June 13, 2008 11:25 AM ET:

This is a Defense Department rebuttal to the Pakistani Foreign Service who is passing along a "complaint" most likely from the Taliban/AQ arm of the Pakistani ISI. My guess is that a complaint was brought forward from the Pak FS to our State Deparment regarding an American attack on the Pakistani Frontier Forces. State, who has no love lost, for our DOD has let it ride therefore the DOD passed on this little tid bit for consumption by both State and the Pakistani FS.
We should expect to hear a grand yawn about this from the MSM because they think the same way our State Department does meaning Military bad negotiations good and they don't want to escalate this due to the kudos it will bring here in the US for our Military.
Most likely, the radicals in the new Pak Government will have some splainin' to do over the next several days and the Pak Military will be pointing fingers at the ISI.

Posted by JusCruzn at June 13, 2008 11:46 AM ET:

Once again the Taliban/Al Qaeda, and all the other hirabi's take off running when the battle gets too hot for them. President Bush made it as clear as possible right after 9/11. "Those that harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorist themselves and we will hunt you down no matter where you hide". Alot of the HVT have been caught/killed in Pakistan. There have also been several sightings of Al Zawahiri there as well. You know Osama can't be too far away if Ayman is there. Since the Pakistani's obviously can't control their own territory I guess it will be up to others to do it for them. If it isn't done the hirabi's will continue to plan and carry out attacks from there on the rest of the free world. It's just too bad we let them get away at Tora Bora. There would more than likely be people alive today in places like Bali, London, and Madrid to name a few had we eliminated these vermin in the end of 2001. GOOD WORK TROOPS KEEP KILLING TERRORISTS NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE!!!

Posted by ST333 at June 13, 2008 12:10 PM ET:

A Pakistani military spokesman "condemned this completely unprovoked and cowardly act on the post and regretted the loss of precious lives of our soldiers."

"A strong protest has been launched by the Pakistan Army and we reserve the right to protect our citizens and soldiers against aggression," the spokesman continued.

~~"Cowardly Act" "reserve the right to protect your citizens and soldiers against aggression"? What? Who exactly is the spokesman? Those quotes are quite indignant considering at worst, this would be considered a "friendly fire" incident and not intent to target the Paki Military post. I don't trust any statement coming from the Paki govn't. I listened with a raised eye brow when they were rushing out false and incomplete statement after Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and this wrecks of the same desperate appeasement. First they wanted to appeased civilized nations with the Bhutto "investigation" and now they rush to appease the savages. I don't think "allies" is a term I use when speaking of the Paki Govn't. "Fair weather friends" may be a better the French are

Posted by Freedom Now at June 13, 2008 7:36 PM ET:

This second wave of Pakistani peace agreements may have been popular, but they obviously dont fix the problem and as this example shows... will lead to the escalation of kinetic violence on the border. So this increases the likelihood of a war between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has been warning about Pakistan's complicity with the Taliban for a long time now. I believe there is probably some sympathy for the Taliban by some in the central govt and security forces, but I believe the problem is primarily due to the infilitration of the paramilitaries by Taliban supporters.

The Pakistani government will learn that there are severe consequences for taking the easy way out.

Posted by Marlin at June 15, 2008 8:09 AM ET:

If this is true, I like Bush's seriousness. If true, it also says a lot about the double talk of the Pakistani government.

The Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment have been taking part in the US-led operations to capture Bin Laden in the wild frontier region of northern Pakistan. It is the first time they have operated across the Afghan border on a regular basis.

The hunt was "completely sanctioned" by the Pakistani government, according to a UK special forces source. It involves the use of Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles fitted with Hellfire missiles that can be used to take out specific terrorist targets.

One US intelligence source compared the "growing number of clandestine reconnaissance missions" inside Pakistan with those conducted in Laos and Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam war.

Sunday Times: Get Osama Bin Laden before I leave office, orders George W Bush

Posted by Marlin at June 15, 2008 10:00 AM ET:

Karzai is ramping up the rhetoric as well.

Speaking at a Sunday news conference, Karzai warned Pakistan-based Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud that Afghan forces would target him on his home turf. Mehsud is suspected in last year's assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

"Baitullah Mehsud should know that we will go after him now and hit him in his house," Karzai said.

"And the other fellow, (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar of Pakistan should know the same," Karzai continued. "This is a two-way road in this case, and Afghans are good at the two-way road journey. We will complete the journey and we will get them and we will defeat them. We will avenge all that they have done to Afghanistan for the past so many years."

Associated Press: Karzai: I'll send troops after Pakistan insurgents

Posted by Red Howard at June 15, 2008 11:31 AM ET:

pakmil will watch this one from the sidelines. zar, zan, zamin.

Posted by Marlin at June 15, 2008 1:23 PM ET:

Hmmm. Is US pressure finally starting have an effect on the negotiations between the new Pakistani government and the Taliban?

In a move ostensibly aimed at easing US pressure, the government has introduced a new clause to a draft peace agreement for South Waziristan to stop tribal militants from cross-border activities, Dawn has learnt.

The revised draft agreement says the Mehsud tribe, including the Taliban, would not violate Pakistani and Islamic laws "within the country, across the border and abroad".

"We the Mehsud tribe, including the Taliban, will not violate the law of Islam and Pakistan within the country, across the border and abroad," a carefully structured new clause to the proposed peace agreement said.

Dawn: 'US pressure' forces changes in pact draft