Three US soldiers killed in a bombing in northwest Pakistan’s Lower Dir district this month were not the intended targets of the attack, a top general said Thursday.
The militants who blew up a car bomb as a security convoy passed aimed for the ”most prominent” vehicle in the apparent belief that a local paramilitary commander would be inside, Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan told The Associated Press in a brief telephone conversation.
There had been speculation in the aftermath of the February 3 blast that the attackers had specifically targeted the Americans, raising the spectre of an informant close to the US mission training members of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps.
Khan, who heads the Corps, said five militants linked to the attack had been killed and others arrested, but gave no more details.
The killings were the first known US military fatalities in nearly three years in Pakistan’s Afghan border region.
They drew attention to the training program, which officials from both countries rarely discuss because of opposition to American boots on Pakistani soil.
There are around 100 US special operations forces trying to strengthen the ill-equipped and poorly trained outfit’s ability to fight militants.
Authorities and witnesses have given conflicting accounts on whether the attack was a planted bomb or a suicide blast.
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