US doubts soldiers killed in Pakistan directly targeted
Washington: A top US official said on Wednesday three US military trainers killed in a bombing in Pakistan appear not to have been "directly targeted" and denied Taliban charges they worked for the controversial Blackwater security firm.
Their deaths and the wounding of two other US soldiers in the blast at a girls school is "a great tragedy," Richard Holbrooke, the special US representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters in Washington.
He described them as "American military personnel in Pakistan who were doing training with the Frontier Corps," a Pakistani paramilitary force that patrols the borders.
Eight people in all, including the soldiers and some young girls, were killed in the attack on a school in the northwest district of Lower Dir which had just been rebuilt after an earlier Islamist attack.
Holbrooke said the US Ambassador in Islamabad, Anne Patterson, did not think the soldiers were directly targeted, but added "that is my only source of information on that question”.
He dismissed as propaganda allegations by the Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack, that the soldiers were actually employees of the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, which gained notoriety in Iraq.
"They`re certain to say that," Holbrooke said of the Taliban allegations.