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NATO says its aircraft entered Pakistan in self defence

NATO said its aircraft entered Pakistani airspace early today in self defence and killed "several armed individuals" after air crews believed they had been fired at from the ground.

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NATO said its aircraft entered Pakistani airspace early today in self defence and killed "several armed individuals" after air crews believed they had been fired at from the ground.

After striking what was believed to be an insurgent group, "the aircraft received what the crews assessed as effective small arms fire from individuals just across the border in Pakistan," NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

"Operating in self defense, the ISAF aircraft entered into Pakistani airspace killing several armed individuals," it said.

Pakistan shut down the main land route for NATO supplies into Afghanistan after officials accused NATO of killing Pakistani troops in the fourth cross-border attack this week.

A Pakistan military spokesman in a statement said two helicopters from Afghanistan used cannon fire against an outpost of the Frontier Corps located 200 metres (650 feet) inside Pakistan.

Troops present at the post manned by six soldiers "retaliated through rifle fire to indicate that the helicopters were crossing into our territory," the spokesman said.

"Instead of heeding to the warning, helicopters went to fire two missiles, destroying the post. As a result, three FC soldiers have embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and three have been injured."

ISAF said it had been informed by Pakistani military officials that members of their border forces had been hit by coalition aircraft and said a review was underway "to verify the exact location of the two engagements and the facts". 

"Both sides have in mind that it is the insurgents, operating on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and violating the territorial sovereignty of both countries, that we are focused on fighting," ISAF said. 

NATO and the Pakistani government said earlier they were investigating the incident in the Kurram district of Pakistan's tribal belt, which Washington has branded an al-Qaeda headquarters and hub of militants fighting in Afghanistan.

The region is being targeted by a record number of US drone strikes and was reportedly where al-Qaeda hatched a recent plot to attack cities in Britain, France and Germany uncovered by Western intelligence agencies.

"We have suspended NATO supply trucks for the time being due to security reasons," an official in Pakistan's Frontier Corps paramilitary unit told AFP in the northwestern city of Peshawar on condition of anonymity.

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