October 3, 2008 / 3:29 PM / 10 years ago

NATO launches airstrike near Pakistan-Afghan border

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - NATO launched an airstrike near the Afghan border with Pakistan on Friday, but there was no intrusion into Pakistani territory, a Pakistani military spokesman said, contradicting accounts by intelligence officials in the region.

Major-General Athar Abbas said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force had informed Pakistan it would be conducting an operation across the border from North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region known as a hotbed of Taliban and al Qaeda support.

“ISAF informed us at around 4:00 p.m. (6:00 a.m. EDT) that they were conducting an operation in Afghanistan, across from North Waziristan,” Abbas said.

“There was no violation, no incursion or intrusion on our side.”

Intelligence officials in the region had earlier told Reuters a U.S. warplane bombed two houses in Datta Khel, a village 60 km (37 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region.

“A jet fighter bombed two houses in different parts of Datta Khel. Two women and one child were killed,” said one of the officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

He said five men were also wounded in the attack that took place at around 5.30 a.m. Drone aircraft were seen circling the village after the attack, officials said.

On Wednesday, a U.S. pilotless drone fired two missiles at a house in northwest Pakistan, killing five people.

Frustrated by an intensifying Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, U.S. forces have in the past month carried out seven missile strikes by pilotless drones and a commando raid on the Pakistani side of the border.

The U.S. strikes into Pakistan, in particular the September 3 raid by ground troops, have angered Pakistan, straining ties between the allies and leading to tension along the border which Pakistani forces have vowed to defend.

The government says the strikes are an infringement of Pakistani sovereignty.

U.S. commanders have spoken of respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty but have suggested they will not stop cross-border strikes on militants.

Reporting by Haji Mujtaba, Alamgir Bitani and Zeeshan Haider; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Jerry Norton

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