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NATO Launches Airstrikes Into Pakistan

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NATO says its helicopters have killed more than 30 militants in Pakistan, in an unusual air-raid in that country. The helicopters crossed over the border from Afghanistan in what a NATO spokesman called a 'self-defense" operation. Most NATO attacks on militants in Pakistan have been conducted by unmanned drone aircraft.

ARI SHAPIRO, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Ari Shapiro.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

U.S. military officials say their helicopters entered Pakistani airspace twice in recent days. They say the unusual raids were carried out in hot pursuit of insurgents and more than 30 militants were killed. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from Kabul.

QUIL LAWRENCE: American officials say their gunships attacked a group of insurgents across the border on Friday, after observing Afghan forces on the ground taking fire from inside Pakistan. A similar incident occurred in the same border area on Saturday.

Officials say U.S. helicopters killed dozens of insurgents in the attacks and no civilians were harmed. The Taliban issued a routine condemnation of U.S. actions over the weekend, claiming that all the casualties were civilians.

Despite years of complaint by Afghan and American officials, the border with Pakistan remains an escape route for insurgents. U.S. officials say they are allowed to cross the border in hot pursuit or self-defense. But U.S. incursions are hugely unpopular in Pakistan where the government must balance its alliance with the United States against a largely anti-American populace.

Quil Lawrence, NPR News, Kabul

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