The U.S. Department of Defense says inadequate coordination by both Pakistani and U.S.-led forces led to last month’s coalition attack that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the border with Afghanistan.
A U.S. military investigation released Thursday found that American forces acted “in self-defense and with appropriate force” after being fired upon by Pakistani forces along the poorly demarcated border between the two countries.
The report said incorrect mapping information exchanged between U.S. troops and Pakistan border officials led to a misunderstanding about the location of Pakistani border posts.
The investigation found, however, that there was “no intentional effort” by U.S. forces to mislead or target the Pakistani military.
The Defense Department expressed its “deepest regret” and “sincere condolences” for the incident, but stopped short of meeting the Pakistani demand for a full apology.
The attack on November 26 has inflamed already damaged tensions between the United States and Pakistan. Islamabad has ordered U.S. forces to vacate a Pakistan airbase it uses, and has indefinitely closed the two main overland routes NATO uses to send non-lethal supplies to Afghanistan.
American media reports on Thursday quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying NATO’s failure to inform Islamabad that it was conducting the operation may have led Pakistani soldiers to mistake the coalition forces for Taliban militants.
The reports also said that American forces may have given Pakistani border coordination officials wrong or incomplete coordinates for the locations to be attacked by U.S. helicopters and gunships, though it is not clear if Pakistan cleared the attacks beforehand.