NATO spokesmen are confirming tonight that a pair of US Apache helicopters crossed the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan, launching an attack against tribesmen in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) which killed over 50.
NATO says that the tribesmen they attacked were believed to be the same ones responsible for an attack against a NATO base in the Khost Province of Afghanistan. The Khost Province borders FATA’s North Waziristan Agency, a regular target for US drone strikes.
Though it is not the first time US forces have crossed the border and launched attacks into Pakistan, such attacks have been exceedingly rare (and followed by angry reactions from Pakistan’s military and civilian government). NATO has also repeatedly tried to distance itself from previous attacks, insisting there is no basis for crossing the border.
NATO depends on Pakistani territory as a supply route for its troops in land-locked Afghanistan, and following a pair of 2008 raids by US troops into Pakistan the nation’s government briefly blocked the supplies. With many, many more NATO troops in Afghanistan now than in 2008 the supply route is all the more vital, though simultaneously all the more fragile.