No U.S. disciplinary action seen over Pakistan strike

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 25, 2012 5:03 AM
No U.S. disciplinary action seen over Pakistan strike

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military is not planning to discipline any of its forces over a cross-border skirmish last year that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and plunged Washington-Islamabad ties to their lowest point in years, a U.S. military official said on Saturday.

A U.S. military investigation last year had already exonerated American troops operating in Afghanistan from inappropriate use of force against the Pakistani forces - even as the U.S. military acknowledged some of the blame in the incident.

That investigation concluded that American troops, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self-defense and with appropriate force after being fired on by the Pakistanis just across the border.

The U.S. military official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, did not offer further details about the subsequent decision not to discipline U.S. forces.

Pakistan shut off ground supply lines to the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan on November 26 over the incident.

The United States expressed regret for the loss of life, but the U.S. military investigation blamed Pakistani soldiers for firing first at NATO forces as they prepared for a mission in the remote corner of eastern Afghanistan.

The investigation also conceded a critical error by U.S. troops, who, due to a mapping error, told Pakistan the cross-border shooting was taking place about 9 miles from the actual location.

Pakistan responded by saying it had no troops there, which led Americans to conclude there was no danger to Pakistani military personnel. Pakistan's military roundly rejected the U.S. findings, saying that apportioning any blame on Pakistani forces was "unjustified and unacceptable." Pakistan admitted its posts engaged in "speculative fire," including the use of mortar bombs, which the U.S. forces interpreted as hostile fire.

But it denied that it fired in the direction of Afghan and NATO forces and was instead firing at suspected militant movement.

(Reporting By Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney)