NATO Airstrike Kills 24 Pakistani Soldiers

This article is excerpted from the original on BBC News 

Pakistan has buried 24 of its troops who were killed in a Nato airstrike at a checkpoint on the Afghan border. The incident on Saturday has heightened already tense relations between Pakistan and the US and Nato.

Nato has apologised, calling it a "tragic unintended incident", and is investigating what happened.

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had written to Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to "make it clear that the deaths of Pakistani personnel are as unacceptable and deplorable as the deaths of Afghan and international personnel".

It follows a joint statement by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who offered their condolences for the loss of life, backed the investigation into the incident and stressed the "importance of the US-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people".

Pakistan has reacted angrily to the attack, which took place at two remote border posts in Pakistan's tribal district of Mohmand in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Prime Minister Gilani called it a "grave infringement of Pakistan's sovereignty".

A meeting of the cabinet's defence committee, convened by Mr Gilani, said it had decided to cut key supply lines to Nato in Afghanistan. Reports later appeared to confirm that Nato traffic was not being allowed through Pakistan's two border crossings with Afghanistan, at Torkham and Chaman.

The committee has also asked the United States to vacate, within 15 days, the Shamsi air base, which the US military has used to launch drones - although the BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad notes that Pakistan has made a similar demand before and the base may already be empty.

The committee further said it would "revisit and undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and co-operative arrangements with US/Nato/Isaf, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence".

Pakistan's government also summoned the US ambassador.

The night-time attack took place at the Salala checkpoint, about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from the Afghan border, at around 02:00 on Saturday morning local time.