NATO troops have engaged in a major overnight gunbattle with insurgent forces, in what was apparently a mass attack on some joint operations bases in Bermal district of the Paktia Province, not far from the North Waziristan border.
According to Paktia Provincial spokesman Mukhlis Afghan, the resulting combat ended with at least 80 of the insurgents slain. NATO’s own statement put the toll at 30, while a spokesman for the Taliban claimed that only 10 were killed, and also that they managed to destroy several checkpoints before the clash ended.
NATO reports also said five coalition forces were wounded in the fighting. Officials later said one NATO soldier was killed but it was unclear if it was in Paktia or elsewhere. The Taliban’s spokesman claimed the group had inflicted “mass casualties.” The Afghan government has yet to confirm any casualty numbers from their forces, which were also involved in the fighting.
Speculation in the wake of the attack is that the Haqqani Network, which operates in North Waziristan, was responsible for the attack. This will likely add to the pressure against the Pakistani government to launch a major offensive in the region.