ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan angrily condemned a raid on a village that killed at least 15 people Wednesday, claiming U.S.-led troops flew in from Afghanistan for the first known foreign ground assault against a suspected Taliban haven in this country’s wild tribal belt.
The Foreign Ministry protested the attack, and an army spokesman warned that the apparent escalation from recent missile strikes on militant targets along the Afghan border would further anger Pakistanis and undercut co-operation in the war against terrorist groups.
The boldness of the thrust fed speculation about the intended target. But it was unclear whether any extremist leader was killed or captured in the operation, which occurred in one of the militant strongholds dotting a frontier region considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.
U.S. military and civilian officials declined to respond to Pakistan’s complaints or discuss the attack, but one official in Washington said any decision to launch a mission sure to anger Pakistan would require a very important target.
Suspected U.S. missile attacks killed at least two al-Qaida commanders this year in the same region, drawing protests from Pakistan’s government that its sovereignty was under attack. U.S. officials did not acknowledge any involvement in those attacks.
But American commanders have been complaining publicly that Pakistan puts too little pressure on militant groups that are blamed for mounting violence in Afghanistan, stirring speculation that U.S. forces might lash out across the frontier.
In other signs of Pakistan’s precarious stability three days before legislators elect a successor to Pervez Musharraf as president, snipers shot at the prime minister’s limousine near Islamabad and government troops killed two dozen militants in another area of the restive northwest.
Pakistani officials said they were lodging strong protests with the U.S. government and its military representative in Islamabad about Wednesday’s raid in the South Waziristan area, a notorious hotbed of militant activity.
The Foreign Ministry called the strike "a gross violation of Pakistan’s territory," saying it could "undermine the very basis of co-operation and may fuel the fire of hatred and violence that we are trying to extinguish."
Government and military officials insisted that either the NATO force or the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan — both commanded by American generals — were responsible.
The army’s spokesman, Maj.-Gen. Athar Abbas, said the attack was the first incursion onto Pakistani soil by troops from the foreign forces that ousted Afghanistan’s hardline Taliban after the Sept. 11 attack on the United States.
He said the attack would undermine Pakistan’s efforts to isolate Islamic extremists and could threaten NATO’s major supply lines, which snake from Pakistan’s Indian Ocean port of Karachi through the tribal region into Afghanistan.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, 1st Lt. Nathan Perry, said he had "no information to give" about Wednesday’s incident. A spokesman for NATO troops in Afghanistan denied any involvement.
Yes or No.
Not that my trust remained in the first place when it comes to the US, but this just adds onto the pile for me.