Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pentagon launches botched attack on Pakistani village, 20+ civilian casualties estimated

The Financial Times reports on a botched US military raid in the village of Angor Adda in Pakistan - apparently based on faulty intelligence. While the Pentagon stated that it was meant to be a strike against al Qaeda (who else?), the strike by Special Forces ended up killing up to 20 civilians, including women and children.

The strike is being interpreted as an obvious effort by the Bush administration to intensify its counter-terrorism efforts against al Qaeda in Pakistan, the country where most analysts believe bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are still hiding if they are in fact still alive. But the fact that this raid ended up targeting and killing civilians ended up having the predictable effect of angering Pakistani civilians as well as the country's new government:
“This was a complete botch up. The Americans went wild upon receiving what has turned out to be very faulty intelligence” said one Pakistani diplomat. “The Americans put boots on the ground and got egg on their face”.

Opposition leaders used the occasion to condemn the government for its failure to defend Pakistan’s interests.

“The US attack on Pakistani soil is totally condemnable. The government must defend our frontiers. America has disregarded all norms of law” said Javaid Hashmi, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

And further complicating matters, Pakistan is holding its presidential elections on Sunday, adding even more tension to the mix. According to the FT: "[W]estern diplomats said that Wednesday’s cross-border raid was likely to make the popular mood increasingly hostile to the government as well as Washington."

More on the disastrous raid from Time, including this wonderful quote from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry: "The Foreign Ministry called the strike 'a gross violation of Pakistan's territory,' saying it could 'undermine the very basis of cooperation and may fuel the fire of hatred and violence that we are trying to extinguish.'"

Update: I didn't realize this, but according to the report from Time, this was actually "[T]he first incursion onto Pakistani soil by troops from the foreign forces that ousted Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban regime after the Sept. 11 attacks."

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