Three Pakistani soldiers killed in NATO border strike

US prefers to use unmanned aerial drones for attacks on militant positions.

Parachinar: Three Pakistani soldiers were killed in a NATO helicopter attack in a border region with Afghanistan, security and military officials said, apparently the fourth such strike in recent days.

The attack by two NATO helicopters took place early in the morning in Teri Mangal village in Kurram, an ethnic Pashtun tribal region on the Afghan border.

"The helicopters shelled the area for about 25 minutes. Three of our soldiers manning a border post were killed and three wounded," a senior security official said on condition of anonymity.

He did not say whether Pakistan responded to the strike.

Pakistan on Monday expressed outrage at violation of its airspace by NATO helicopters in Afghanistan over the weekend, saying it would consider "response options" to any future incursions.

Two NATO Apache helicopters killed 30 insurgents on Pakistani soil after a rare manned pursuit across the border from eastern Afghanistan late on Friday, after militants attacked a remote Afghan security outpost in Khost province, NATO forces said.

On Saturday, two Kiowa helicopters returned to the area and killed another four, NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) said in a statement in Kabul on Sunday.

Monday saw another possible border violation, with six militants killed in Kurram, a report said. But an ISAF spokesman said it was "near the border”, rather than in Pakistan.

ISAF said in a statement issued late on Sunday that helicopters crossing into Pakistan were following its rules of engagement.

The rugged border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan is seen by Washington as a critical battleground in its fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Incursions into Pakistan are extremely rare and the United States prefers to use unmanned aerial drones for its attacks on militant positions in Pakistan`s borderlands, known to be a haven for militant groups.

The United States has stepped up missile strikes by pilotless drone aircraft in the border areas in recent weeks. So far, 21 strikes have been carried out by the US drones in September, the record number in a month.

Western security sources said on Wednesday a militant plot to stage coordinated attacks in Europe has been disrupted in its early stages by drone strikes in Pakistan.

Bureau Report