US strikes kill 53 in Pakistan

The helicopter gunships trained their guns on Haqqani militants at least six kilometres inside Pakistan on Saturday after the insurgents had attacked an Afghan army outpost.

“The ISAF helicopters did cross into Pakistan territory to engage the insurgents,” Nato commanders were quoted as saying by the US media and the commanders defended their action saying that they had a right to self-defence.

“The strike killed 49 militants,” an ISAF spokesman said.

The helicopters returned to the border area on Sunday when they were attacked by small fire by insurgents from North Waziristan in Pakistan.

“The gunships struck back at the insurgents engaging them and killed four militants,” the spokesman said.

The tribal areas in Pakistan’s North Waziristan where the air strikes took place is controlled by the Haqqani network and fighters of the Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

Washington, The New York Times reported, has been pressing Islamabad to launch military offensive against the Haqqani network. This is the first time that US-manned aircraft have carried out air strikes in North Waziristan, where earlier Washington has been using unmanned drones.

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