NATO Choppers Violate Pakistan Air Space


Pakistani officials on Wednesday accused NATO helicopters of violating Pakistan's air space over the Taliban and Haqqani stronghold of North Waziristan, along the Afghan border.

"Two helicopters intruded several kilometres inside Pakistan territory in Datta Khel town around 2:00 am (21:00 GMT Tuesday)," a military official told Agence France Presse, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The helicopters flew in from the eastern Afghan province of Paktia and circled the border village of Zoi Nara for more than five minutes, the official in the provincial capital Peshawar said.

But a spokesman for NATO's U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force told AFP that their "operational reporting" showed that no ISAF helicopter crossed the border, which is unmarked in many places.

A Pakistani military official said the choppers left after "warning shots" were fired by Pakistan troops. Officials said they were not attack helicopters.

Dildar Khan, a tribal police official in Datta Khel, said the helicopters flew at a relatively low altitude and returned after the warning shots.

Militants are dug in on both sides of the border and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week called on Pakistan to do more to squeeze militant havens on its territory, particularly those of the Haqqani network.

NATO said Monday that 200 Taliban-linked militants were killed or captured in military operations lasting about a week along the border designed to hit the insurgency hard ahead of the winter, when rebels retreat to hideouts.

NATO commanders in Afghanistan have reported a huge increase in rocket attacks from Pakistani territory over the summer. Pakistani officials have also complained about an increase in cross-border attacks from Afghanistan.

In the tribal district of Bajaur, officials said an anti-Taliban elder was killed by mortar rounds fired across the border from Afghanistan.

At least six mortar shells landed in Zarri village in Mamound district, 45 kilometers northwest of Khar, the main town in Bajaur, local administration official Shah Nasim told AFP.

"A tribal elder Malik Rehman was killed when one shell hit his house," Nasim said. An intelligence official said the shells were fired from Afghan province Kunar and that Rehman was member of a government-sponsored anti-Taliban militia.