Pakistan: Uproar grows over first ground assault by US troops
Pakistani military officials fear American intervention in the tribal areas could spark a rebellion, derailing counterterrorism operations.
United States forces conducted their first ground assaults into Pakistani territory from bases in Afghanistan early Wednesday morning in a raid on a suspected Taliban stronghold in South Waziristan, one of Pakistan's lawless tribal areas. The attack has caused an uproar in Pakistan and raised concerns of a new period of tension between the US and its valuable, nuclear-armed ally in the war on terror, which has entered a period of political uncertainty after the resignation of long-serving president Pervez Musharraf last month.Skip to next paragraph
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The US has not officially commented on the raid, and leaders of the US-led NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan deny any knowledge of the attack, reports Reuters. But one US official, speaking to CNN on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the attack had occurred.
The Pentagon has refused to comment officially on the attack, but several defense officials acknowledged that U.S. military activity had taken place inside Pakistan.
The senior U.S. official said a small number of U.S. helicopters landed troops in the village near Angoor Adda in South Waziristan, where Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have hunkered down over the years.
Local media reports said the troops came out of a chopper and fired on civilians. The U.S. official said there may have been a small number of women and children in the immediate vicinity, but when the mission began "everybody came out firing" from the compound.
He said the U.S. troops specifically attacked three buildings in the compound. They were believed to contain individuals responsible for training and equipping insurgents who have been crossing the border into Afghanistan in increasing numbers in recent months and staging large-scale, high-profile attacks against U.S. and coalition forces.