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NATO, Afghan Troops Kill Militants Near Pakistan Border

Despite Afghan objections, Pakistan has begun fencing and mining sections of the mutual border (file photo) (epa) January 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan says a large number of militants were killed overnight after crossing the border from Pakistan.

NATO spokesman Major Dominic Whyte told RFE/RL that two groups of militants were seen by both NATO and Afghan government troops in the Bermel district of Paktika Province. He said the militants were attacked by both NATO warplanes and Afghan artillery.

"Initial battle-damage estimates indicate that as many as 150 insurgents were killed," Whyte said. "The insurgents were observed congregating together in a large number in several trucks and they were armed and appeared to be gathering for a potential attack. The insurgents had been observed gathering in Pakistan itself and, indeed, had actually crossed the border [into Afghanistan.]"

The Afghan Defense Ministry estimates that about 80 militants were killed in the operation.

Afghanistan And Pakistan

Afghanistan And Pakistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad in October 2005 (epa)

ACROSS A DIFFICULT BORDER. The contested border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is some 2,500 kilometers long and runs through some of the most rugged, inhospitable territory on Earth. Controlling that border and preventing Taliban militants from using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks in Afghanistan is an essential part of the U.S.-led international coalition's strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. Officials in Kabul have been pointing their fingers at Pakistan for some time, accusing Islamabad or intelligence services of turning a blind eye to cross-border terrorism targeting the Afghan central government. Many observers remain convinced that much of the former Taliban regime's leadership -- along with leaders of Al-Qaeda -- are operating in the lawless Afghan-Pakistani border region.... (more)


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