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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

Bill Roggio :Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

View Comments (20)

  • Perceptive comment CJR. You might be right. However, who is the "us" you are referring to? The conflict inside Pakistan is complex, multi-sided, and not primarily about America (although it is partly about America.)
    Notice how Zawahiri's recent 9/11 tape emphasized how much he hated Iran. Hatred of Shia, Hazaras, and Persians is central to many AQ linked networks, as is hatred of Buddhists (Bamiyan), Hindus, Jews, Sufi muslims, and Christians. Notice how much AQ linked networks (or Pakistani extremists) attack Shia and Sufi muslims in Kashmir India (they sometimes accuse them of being "Indian collaborators," but that is not the real reason they are targeted.)
    We don't understand the extent of anti-Jewish hatred among many sunni arab and Pakistani extremists. They are in many cases more anti-Jewish than anti-American. Anti-Jewish bigotry is different from anti-Americanism.
    Perhaps one context we should use to understand what is happening in Pakistan/Afghanistan is Pashtu civil war. What we are now doing is forcing the various Pakistani factions to expose their real position on the Pashtu civil war.
    I think that this is necessary for us to do. Those who are against the main Afghan Pashtu tribes (and by extension the Afghan government and ANSF) will almost certainly eventually support AQ linked attack against us.

  • It sure does seem to be suspect, that Pakistan would be protecting those borders, since Pakistan basically ceded the NWFP to the Taliban months ago, as reported in these very pages.

  • Again, the P-stanis cry and moan about thier "soveriegnty", which is a joke. They ceded large parts of thier country to an entity the US is at war with, and desires to overthrow the "gov" in Islamabad. So which is it? Fire on US troops and help the t-ban? Or work with the US in getting rid of them? The answer for the US is simple. If fired upon, return fire with overwhelming firepower. I read where P-stani warplanes are now patrolling the A-stan border. Why haven't the P-stani's bombed some of those 160+ camps that are like a cancer for the gov of Pak.? If so, they knock down a chopper full of Soldiers, I would hope the US retaliates with all its might. The only way to give A-stan a little breathing room is to hit the insurgency where it lives-in the tribal areas. Predator strikes are nice, but a couple B1-B's would really do some heavy damage. The P-stani's have been playing us for too long, laughing at us. They won't be laughing when camps and compounds all over the tribal areas get bombed to dust.

  • The Pakistani Army has ordered its troops to open fire if they detect any further U.S. incursions into Pakistan.

    Pakistan's military has ordered its forces to open fire if U.S. troops launch another air or ground raid across the Afghan border, an army spokesman said Tuesday.
    The orders, which come in response to a highly unusual Sept. 3 ground attack by U.S. commandos, are certain to heighten tensions between Washington and a key ally against terrorism. Although the ground attack was rare, there have been repeated reports of U.S. drone aircraft striking militant targets, most recently on Sept. 12.

    Associated Press: Pakistan orders troops to open fire if US raids

  • "Pakistan seems to be the single major headache in the region. They supply terrorists, terrorist training, arms and easy reach to combat against the US. We need to find the right pressure points to use against them."
    No, Iran is the single, biggest and most lethal supporter of terrorists in the region. Pakistan may well be # 2 now that Iraq is under control, but no one should forget that Iran is The Player in the region in this Long War.

  • I think one of our goals with the cross border strikes is to simply disrupt AQ and the Pak Taliban with the goal of buying time until the government of Pakistan acts against those forces. I think the other goal may be to poke the beehive in order to bring things to a head in Pakistan and force them to act (or side with the militants). The angry militants usually take their revenge on the easiest target available - the Pakistani troops in the area. Those casualties force the Pakistani to respond against the militants (in fits and starts, admittedly). As the violence continues it will force the Pakistani government to make a fundamental choice: cease cooperation with the US or really go after the militants. I think any pressure we can bring to bear to make them move decisively one way or the other is a good thing. The current double game played by Pakistan means we lose Afghanistan.

  • Looking at this in a more, long-term view, is the Pakistani state viable? As CJR and Anand mentioned above, there are many different factions vying for control of the territory that is presently called "Pakistan."
    At what point do we apply the moniker, 'civil war' ? From the t-ban's perspective, they have already declared war on the Pak government and wrested control of the tribal agencies. The T-ban have repeatedly attacked Pakistani institutions. And yet, up to this point, the govt. has opted for peace treaties with them. If the ruling factions cannot figure out a way to form a united front to oppose the T-ban and regain control of the territories, what happens next? Clearly the U.S. (and the world community at large) cannot allow the nuclear arsenal to fall into the hands of the T-ban. Is it conceivable that Pakistan as we know it today could be carved up between Afghanistan and India? Pakistan is a very new state, less than 70 years old. If the country starts to fall apart in civil war, perhaps the Pashtu NW falls under a sort of international protectorate via Afghanistan and India reclaims parts of Pakistan (Punjab, Bengal, etc..?).
    This admittedly sounds far-fetched but Pakistan is showing signs of being a failed state. Is there enough of a Pakistan national identity to rally around against the tides of extremism in the tribal areas?

  • "is the Pakistani state viable?"

    That's what was said about Iraq. Maybe another question is what are the different factions/regions and where are they in the process of going from uncivilized to accepting help to being civilized? I suspect it's going to have to get worse before anyone wants help. This is a real shame because of the extra cost and a real danger because of the nukes.

  • TS Alfabet:
    Its a civil war only when both side dispute control of a territory. So far, its seems there is little dispute. Taliban says "its our terriorty" and GoP says "OK its yours. Lets sign a peace treaty". Thats not civil war. Thats appeasement.
    The issue is, historically, the rich lowlands doesnt want to control the poor highlands. Its more trouble than it is worth. So "if highlands will leave us alone, we will leave it alone" is a perfectly good solution from lowland faction of GoP point of view.

  • TS Alphabet:
    You are right about Pakistan being the second troublemaking country behind Iran. Pakistan seems to be in a state of chaos with one in complete control. They are badly fragmented, especially in the border area. Iran seems more determined to cause us real damage. We will have to give them a smack down soon; before they get nukes.

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