WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Suspected U.S. commandos blamed for killing 20 people in Pakistan were acting on faulty intelligence that was never shared with Pakistani forces inside the country, a Pakistani official said on Wednesday.
Nadeem Kiani, spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, told Reuters the predawn raid near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan in South Waziristan was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereign territory.
“The intelligence was not correct and the people who have been killed are unarmed civilians, not militants, and those include women and children,” Kiani said in an interview.
Pakistani security officials in the region said they suspected the attack was mounted by U.S. soldiers backed by helicopter gunships in a region known as a sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban militants. The targeted village is across the border from a U.S. military base in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
Some residents said foreign troops involved in the raid also detained people and took them away.
“It was a violation of Pakistan’s territory,” Kiani said.
“Being an ally, any action taken on this side of the border should have been taken by Pakistani forces. There was a need to share that information with the Pakistani side,” he added.
“We do have the capacity to share intelligence, and if there is any intelligence, our forces are in a position to take action immediately.”
A spokeswoman for Afghanistan’s NATO-led force said she had no information about the incident. A spokesman for a separate U.S.-led coalition force declined to comment, referring questions to U.S. Central Command. Florida-based Central Command also had no comment.
In Washington, the CIA referred questions to the U.S. Defense Department, which declined to comment.
“I have nothing for you on those reports,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
The United States says al Qaeda and Taliban militants are based in sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun tribal areas on the Afghan border, where they orchestrate attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and plot violence in the West.
Editing by Bill Trott and Frances Kerry