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Pakistani Troops Fire On Intruding U.S. Helicopters


ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistani troops have fired on two U.S. helicopters that intruded into Pakistani territory, forcing them to turn back to Afghanistan, a senior Pakistani security official said.

The helicopters violated the border in the area of Lowara Mandi, 80 kilometers west of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region, at around 9 p.m. on September 21, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

There was no official confirmation.

"We don't have any information on border violation by the American helicopters," said Major Murad Khan, a military spokesman.

Relations between the two allies became frayed earlier this month after U.S. commandos raided a border village in South Waziristan and killed 20 people, including women and children, on September 3. Pakistanis were outraged by the incursion and the six-month-old civilian government issued a diplomatic protest.

It was the first overt incursion by U.S. ground troops into Pakistani territory, though the U.S. military has conducted numerous missile strikes against Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan's tribal lands.

Pakistani troops fired on two U.S. helicopters that crossed the border at the same village, Angor Adda, a week ago, again forcing them to turn back, according to residents and security officers, though both Pakistani and U.S. officials issued denials.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is due to meet President George W. Bush on September 23 in the United States.
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