KABUL: The US commander in Afghanistan on Saturday promised a full investigation after Pakistan said a NATO air strike killed at least 23 soldiers, sending his condolences over any troops who may have died.
"This incident has my highest personal attention and my commitment to thoroughly investigate it to determine the facts," said General John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).
"My most sincere and personal heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones of any members of Pakistan security forces who may have been killed or injured," he added in a statement.
In the six months since US commandos killed Osama bin Laden near the Pakistani capital Islamabad without prior warning, Pakistani and US and Afghan officials have traded increasing complaints about cross-border attacks.
Isaf said Saturday it remained "committed to improving security relations" with Pakistan, including the coordination of operations along the border -- in many places unmarked -- "in our united fight against terrorism".
Pakistan has frequently accused NATO of violating its airspace in pursuits of Taliban militants, but never before over such a deadly strike.
The last crisis occurred in September 2010 when Pakistan shut the main land route for NATO supplies at Torkham for 11 days after accusing NATO of killing three Pakistani troops in another attack in its northwest.
The border was reopened after the United States formally apologised.
NATO 'highly likely' caused Pakistani deaths
A spokesman for NATO-led troops in Afghanistan confirmed that NATO aircraft had been called in to support troops during an incident near the border with Pakistan, and its forces were "highly likely" responsible for deaths of Pakistani soldiers manning a security check post.
"Close air support was called in, in the development of the tactical situation, and it is what highly likely caused the Pakistan casualties," said Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). However, he maintained that NATO was investigating the inciden.
"We are aware that there are Pakistani casualties, we don't know numbers, we don't know the magnitude of the incident," he told Reuters.
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