Friday, October 1, 2010

The World Today, Oct. 1 - Nigerian independence day bombs kill eight

Pakistan today closed the most important route for supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan in apparent retaliation for an attack on Pakistani border guards by coalition helicopters.

This latest breech in the increasingly tense relationship between the NATO allies and Pakistan comes as the chief of America's Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, is in Islamabad attempting to revive the security alliance with Pakistan.

Pakistani officials stopped fuel tankers and supply trucks today at Torkham border post north of the city of Peshawar on the highway to the Khyber Pass route to Afghanistan.

This is the most important route for all supplies except weapons going to the International Security Assistance Force in eastern Afghanistan and the capital, Kabul.

Oct. 1 - Nigerian independence day bombs kill eight
Another supply route from the Pakistani port city of Karachi goes through the southern city of Quetta to NATO forces in southern and western Afghanistan. This route is still open.

The Khyber supply route was closed after coalition helicopters attacking insurgents in Afghanistan, but close to the border, were fired on from inside Pakistan. The helicopters returned the fire and killed three Pakistani soldiers and wounded three others.

NATO says its pilots believed they were being attacked by insurgents inside Pakistan, and some reports say the Pakistani soldiers fired on the helicopters to warn them they had crossed the border.

This incident comes at a time of increasing public outrage in Pakistan at the use by NATO forces of unmanned, missile-equipped drone aircraft to kill suspected militants inside Pakistan. There have been 21 such attacks this month, the highest number since the campaign started in 2008.

Referring to NATO's cross-border strikes, Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said today “We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies.”

And prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is reported to have expressed “profound concern” over the attacks during his meeting with CIA chief Panetta. In an attempt to shore up what is seen as a vital relationship for the defeat of insurgents in Afghanistan, Panetta also held meetings today with Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari and the heads of the army and the powerful Inter-Service Intelligence agency. This is Jonathan Manthorpe in Vancouver.


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