The latest reports say over two dozen Pakistani soldiers are dead in what appears to be a significant friendly fire incident:
It remains unclear what exactly happened, but the attack took place around 2 a.m. (2100 GMT) in the Baizai area of Mohmand, where Pakistani troops are fighting Taliban militants.
“Pakistani troops effectively responded immediately in self-defense to NATO/ISAF’s aggression with all available weapons,” the Pakistani military statement said.
The commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, said he had offered his condolences to the family of any Pakistani soldiers who “may have been killed or injured.”
The U.S. embassy in Islamabad also offered condolences.
About 40 Pakistani army troops were stationed at the outposts, military sources said. Two officers were reported among the dead.
Pakistan has temporarily locked down supply routes to Afghanistan but the real the effect of this event will be felt, and linger, in Pakistani public opinion for quite some time. As far as friendly fire incidents go, this is a doozy. Conspiracy theorists, or players with an axe to grind (of which there are many), will have an easy time convincing many Pakistanis that this was intentional. Any way you spin it, this is damaging.
Recommended on Twitter: @haidermullick – Haider Ali Hussein Mullick is a fellow at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
Follow developments in Pakistan with the Blogs of War Pakistan Monitor at http://pakistan.blogsofwar.com.