Report: US helicopters fired on while crossing Pakistani border
A US military incursion into the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan on Monday was aborted after Pakistani troops opened fire on the force, reports from Pakistan indicate.
At least two American helicopters were fired on after crossing the Pakistani frontier near Angoor Adda in South Waziristan, Geo TV reported. "The U.S. choppers came into Pakistan by just 100 to 150 meters at Angor Adda. Even then our troops did not spare them, opened fire on them and they turned away," an anonymous security official told Reuters.
The incident has not been confirmed by the US or Pakistan military.
Angoor Adda is the location of the Sept. 3 assault by US special operations forces that resulted in 20 killed. While the US military did not go on the record about the attack, sources say 20 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters were killed during the raid. The Pakistanis claim that mostly women and children were killed.
The village was also the site of an apparent strike on July 11. The incident was never confirmed, but conflicting reports indicate either US artillery or aircraft was fired at Taliban fighters in the town. Angoor Adda sits astride a Taliban infiltration route into Afghanistan and is used to stage cross-border strikes into neighboring Paktika province.
The latest US incursion into Pakistan comes as numerous Pakistani military and political leaders have vowed to protect its territorial integrity from all attacks. The Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani and Minister of Defense Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar both said the country would do what is needed to defend itself from outside attacks.
Pakistan closed the vital Torkham border crossing into Afghanistan to NATO traffic on Sept. 6 to send a message to the US, Mukhtar said. The crossing was reopened the next day. The Pakistani Air Force is said to have begun to patrol the tribal areas over the weekend.
President George W. Bush has authorized the increased air and ground strikes inside Pakistan in an effort to root out al Qaeda and Taliban forces. There have been 16 cross-border strikes in Pakistan this year alone, compared to just 10 in 2006 and 2007 combined.
The raids have stepped up over the past three weeks, with the US hitting inside Pakistan on an average of every other day. There have been eight recorded strikes inside Pakistan since Aug. 31.
The raids have focused on the tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan. Seven safe houses and training camps have been hit in North Waziristan, seven have been hit in South Waziristan, and two have been targeted in Bajaur this year. Several senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in the strikes.
North Waziristan hosts the deadly Haqqani Network, which has close links to al Qaeda and the Taliban and is responsible for some of the deadliest attacks inside Afghanistan. South Waziristan hosts Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who also has close links to al Qaeda.
Bajaur hosts Faqir Mohammed, a radical Taliban leader who has sheltered senior al Qaeda leaders including Ayman al Zawahiri. The lawless tribal agency is a command and control center for al Qaeda's operations in northeastern Afghanistan.
US attacks inside Pakistan in 2008:
• Report: US helicopters fired on while crossing Pakistani border
Sept. 15, 2008
• US hits compound in North Waziristan,
Sept. 12, 2008
• US targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,
Sept. 8, 2008
• US airstrike killed five al Qaeda operatives in North Waziristan,
Sept. 5, 2008
• Report: US airstrike kills four in North Waziristan,
Sept. 4, 2008
• Pakistanis claim US helicopter-borne forces assaulted village in South Waziristan,
Sept. 3, 2008
• US hits al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan,
Aug. 31, 2008
• Five killed in al Qaeda safe house strike in South Waziristan,
Aug. 31, 2008
• Al Qaeda safe house targeted in South Waziristan strike,
Aug. 20, 2008
• Cross-border strike targets one of the Taliban's 157 training camps in Pakistan's northwest,
Aug. 13, 2008
• Six killed in strike in South Waziristan,
July 28, 2008
• Senior Algerian al Qaeda operative killed in May 14 strike inside Pakistan,
May 24, 2008
• Missile strike kills 20 in South Waziristan,
March 16, 2008
• Unprecedented Coalition strike nails the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,
March 13, 2008
• Missile strike on al Qaeda meeting in South Waziristan kills 13,
Feb. 28, 2008
• Senior al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al Libi killed in North Waziristan,
Jan. 31, 2008