US general to probe deadly air strike

2011-11-29 09:40
Washington - The US military on Monday named an Air Force general to lead an investigation into allied air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and provoked outrage in Islamabad.

Pakistan has reacted with fury and cut off crucial supply routes to Nato-led forces in Afghanistan after Saturday's killings near a checkpoint in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar.

The chief of US Central Command appointed Brigadier General Stephen Clark, from Air Force Special Operations Command in Florida, as the investigating officer for the probe that will also include a Nato representative, officials said.

The governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan "will be invited to participate", Central Command said in a statement.

Central Command, which oversees US forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan, wanted to "include these government representatives to the maximum extent possible to determine what happened and preclude it from happening again."

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) sent an initial assessment team over the weekend to the border to look into the incident.

Pakistan says the air strikes were unprovoked, while Afghan and Western officials reportedly say Pakistani forces opened fire first.

Before Saturday's attack, US military officers had been working to shore up co-operation with Pakistani forces along the Afghan border.

Communication between units on the border virtually broke down in the aftermath of a US raid in May that killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani compound.

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