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Pakistanis in Islamabad light candles during a protest to condemn the soldiers' killing. AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen/PA Images

Pentagon expresses 'deepest regret' over killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers

Pakistan has rejected the findings of an investigation into last month’s incident on the Pakistan-Afghan border, saying the inquiry was “short on facts”.

THE PENTAGON has expressed its “deep regret” over an attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month along the Afghan border, but says an investigation into the incident found that the American NATO troops had responded with appropriate force after coming under fire.

Air Force Brig Gen Stephen Clark, who led the investigation, said in a press briefing yesterday that there was no evidence that US troops had intentionally fired on Pakistani soldiers or had intended to deliberately provide inaccurate information about their location to Pakistani officials.

The report concluded that a series of miscommunications between the US and Pakistani troops led to the deaths.

Clark said that US troops who came under machine gun and mortar fire on 25/26 November were told there were no Pakistani soldiers in the area. He said that after US troops engaged in fire, their command centre began receiving reports from Pakistani officials saying their soldiers were being fired on by the US.

Pentagon officials spoke about the report’s conclusions with the head of Pakistan’s army, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

‘Short on facts’

However, Pakistan has rejected the US military report on the incident, saying that its troops did nothing wrong and accusing the inquiry of being “short on facts”.

Pakistan is expected to provide a more detailed response after its officials, who refused to cooperate with the investigation, receive the report.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the US military expresses “deepest regret” over the deaths.

“We further express sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government and most importantly to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded,” he added.

Relations between the two countries have grown increasingly strained over the past year; the Pentagon’s report highlighted the importance of improving trust between the two, saying the US “cannot operate effectively on the border – or in other parts of our relationship – without addressing the fundamental trust still lacking between us.”

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