U.S.: Border Guard Who Wounded American Soldier in Pakistani Custody

A Pakistani border guard who shot an American soldier in the head near Afghanistan's volatile eastern border is in the custody of Pakistani authorities, a U.S. military official said Thursday.

The wounded American, who was treated at a military hospital in Germany, is in stable condition, U.S. military spokeswoman Master Sgt. Kelly Tyler said.

"He's undergone surgery in Germany and is expected to be released from the hospital by Friday," Tyler said of the wounded American, who has not been identified.

"The person who fired (on the American) is in the custody of the Pakistani government," Tyler said.

Pakistani and U.S. officials have downplayed the Sunday incident, which is not expected to affect Pakistan's support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Hard-line Islamic lawmakers in Pakistan, however, have condemned the United States for the clash, in which a U.S. warplane also bombed a site along the border. Tyler said the bombing took place on the Afghan side of the border.

"I think it's very important that we not make this a U.S. forces-Pakistani border guard issue," Tyler told reporters. "The U.S. and the Pakistani border guards of that area actually work very closely."

Tyler said U.S. forces had provided Pakistani border guards with cell phones, and that senior American and Pakistani commanders on both sides of the border were in "constant communication" and meet once a week.

The U.S. Army has a liaison officer in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, and a Pakistani liaison officer is also stationed at Bagram Air Base, the headquarters of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, she said.

Tyler said at the time of the incident, U.S. forces were observing Pakistani border guards disarm two rockets in an area just inside the Afghan border, where they had set up a checkpoint. According to Tyler, the checkpoint had been set up 300-400 yards inside the Afghanistan.

The area is in the southeastern province of Paktika.

Another Pakistani border guard -- who was not with the group disarming the rockets -- approached the American observers but was told to go away, Tyler said.

The Pakistani began leaving, but then turned and fired, grazing the head of one American soldier. The shooter then retreated into a nearby abandoned compound on the Afghan side of the border and was surrounded by the other Pakistani guards, she said.

When it was decided it would take several hours for more Pakistani soldiers to arrive, a U.S. commander called in air support -- Tyler said it was a Harrier jet, but other U.S. officials have said it was an F-16 -- which bombed the compound.

It not clear how the Pakistani man managed to survive.

There have been varying accounts of precisely how the incident developed and played out.

Pakistan's government said one of its border guards was involved and that the clash took place on the Afghan side of the border. It said no Pakistanis were wounded or killed.

Residents in the remote South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan said Monday that U.S. bombs fell near an abandoned madrassa, or Islamic seminary, in Burmol, a border village 200 miles southwest of Peshawar. There were no reports of injuries from residents.

Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rashid Quereshi discounted what the residents said, claiming the clash and the bombing took place inside Afghanistan.