Nato forces may have been lured into attacking friendly Pakistani border posts in a calculated maneuver by the Taliban, according to preliminary US military reports on the deadliest friendly fire incident with Pakistan since the Afghanistan war began.
The Nato airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers over the weekend in an apparent case of mistaken identity, AP has learned.
A joint US-Afghan patrol was attacked by the Taliban early Saturday morning. While pursuing the enemy in the poorly marked border area, the patrol seems to have mistaken one of the Pakistan troop outposts for a militant encampment and called in a Nato gunship and attack helicopters to open fire.
US officials say the reports suggest the Taliban may have deliberately tried to provoke a cross-border firefight that would set back fragile partnerships between the US and Nato forces and Pakistani soldiers at the ill-defined border. Officials described the records on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters.
Gen James Mattis, head of US Central Command, announced on Monday he has appointed Brig Gen Stephen Clark to lead the probe of the incident, and said he must include input from the Nato-led forces in Afghanistan.