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Terrorism & Security

NATO ground troops attack Taliban stronghold in Pakistan, officials say

The raid may be the first time the US has sent troops into Pakistan. Prior attacks attributed to US forces were conducted with drones.

By Huma Yusuf / September 3, 2008

NATO and US ground troops attacked three houses near a Taliban and Al Qaeda stronghold in South Waziristan, a tribal area in Pakistan, on Wednesday, Pakistani officials said. At least 15 people – mostly civilians – are said to have been killed in the attack. Unlike previous NATO airstrikes in the region, this involved the deployment of ground troops. The attack comes in the wake of the Pakistan military's announcement of a cease-fire with militants in the northern and tribal areas to observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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According to The New York Times, the attack has been confirmed by the governor of the North West Frontier Province, a Taliban commander, and eyewitnesses. US and NATO officials in Afghanistan have not yet commented on the reported strike.

The attacks were aimed at three houses in the village of Jala Khel in the Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan, less than a mile from the border with Afghanistan, the Taliban commander and local residents said.
The helicopter attacks occurred at about 3 a.m. and killed 20 people, according to the provincial governor, Owais Ahmed Ghani said....
A Taliban commander, known by the nom de guerre Commander Malang, said the attack took place close to a Pakistani military position on the border and killed 15 people. But the Pakistani military took no action, he said.

The BBC reports that ground troops were deployed as part of the attack. The report emphasizes that while airstrikes by coalition forces in Afghanistan against Pakistani militant targets have previously occurred, "a raid by ground troops would be rare."

Locals say three helicopter gunships dropped international troops in the Musa Nikeh area of South Waziristan, located on the border with Afghanistan, overnight.
They say the soldiers killed more than a dozen people with gunfire and bombs, including women and children.
"Troops came in helicopters and carried out action in three houses," Gul Nawaz, a shopkeeper, told Reuters news agency.
Witnesses told the BBC Urdu service that troops entered the house of a local tribesman, opened fire and then lobbed a bomb in the house. They said at least nine bodies had been recovered from the debris. The witnesses said the family was not known for links with militants.

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