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NATO attack in Pakistan was 'self-defense,' says US

The Pakistani government strongly condemned a series of manned airstrikes on Pakistani soil, including two NATO attacks that officials say killed about 55 suspected insurgents over the weekend.

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Pakistan lodged an official protest with ISAF, he said.

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Basit didn't elaborate on what "corrective" steps Pakistan was seeking or what responses it would consider if those steps weren't taken.

What happened

The first cross-border air strike occurred after "a significant number" of insurgents launched an attack from Pakistani territory on a remote Afghan National Army base just inside Afghanistan's eastern Khost province, ISAF said in its statement.

ISAF helicopter gunships monitoring the assault on Combat Outpost Narizah crossed into the North Waziristan area in pursuit of the militants, killing more than 30, ISAF said.

Additional helicopters arrived to assess the situation "and received small arms fire again. The aircraft returned fire, resulting in additional insurgents killed," the statement said. "At no time during the engagement did ground forces cross into Pakistani territory."

ISAF said that the helicopters acted in conformity with the force's "rules of engagement."

Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, the Khost provincial police chief, said by telephone that between 60 and 70 militants died in the helicopter strikes.

Air Force Master Sergeant Jason Haag, an ISAF spokesman, said he couldn't confirm reports in Pakistan that ISAF helicopters crossed the border again Monday, attacking militants in the tribal agency of Kurram.

"There was an operation near the border, but I don't have information right now that tells me they crossed the border," he said, giving the location of the operation as the eastern Afghan province of Paktiya.

Related: 5 key players in Pakistan's tribal belt

The US has been stepping up air strikes on extremist targets in Pakistan's tribal area, using unmanned missile-firing drones operated mostly by the CIA. On Monday, a missile attack on a house in a village in the North Waziristan tribal area killed at least two militants, according to news reports in Pakistan.

ISAF, which works closely with the Pakistani military, rarely reports cross-border attacks by ISAF helicopters or jetfighters.

'Watershed event'

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