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US commandoes not being airlifted from Pakistan, says govt

QUETTA, October 21 (Internews): Pakistani officials on Sunday denied
 that American commandoes were being airdropped in Kabul and Kandahar
 after being airlifted from bases on its soil.
 "The bases we have given [to the Americans] are only for logistical
 use," an official of the Balochistan government said. "They are not
 being used for offensive strikes."
 Pakistan's largest province, Balochistan straddles the border with
 Afghanistan.
 The official refused to confirm or deny whether an American military
 helicopter that reported as crashed, killing two and injuring three US
 soldiers, flew from Balochistan.
 He, however, confirmed reports that the United States has been given
 permission to use a second air base in Balochistan.
 Last week Pakistan revealed it had let the US use two of its airports
 for logistical support during the current military operation in
 Afghanistan. The third base is a small airstrip in the town of
 Dalbandin, close to the Afghan border.
 The air bases in Balochistan and Sindh are being used by American forces
 as "recovery facilities during military strikes," the official said. A
 small contingent of US forces is already based at the first two
 airports.
 The airbase in Jacobabad in Sindh province is rarely used by the
 Pakistan Air Force, and the commercial airport in Pasni in Balochistan
 is a facility for small and medium-sized aircraft.
 "The US forces have been allowed to use these facilities as part of the
 government's commitment to Washington to provide logistic support during
 the military operation," the official said.
 He insisted that "under no circumstances" would Pakistan's ground
 facilities be used for launching any air or ground attack inside
 Afghanistan.
 Last week President Pervez Musharraf repeated his wish that the American
 military campaign should be short and focused on military targets. But
 after talks with visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell, he
 reassured the Americans that Pakistan would cooperate as long as it
 lasted. There were no deadlines, he said.
 A fire broke out near the Jacobabad base on Friday. A senior official
 said it was caused by a flare fired from a US aircraft to help it to
 land on the air base, where there is no night-landing facility.
 "The flare apparently fell into the nearby bushes which caught fire," he
 said, ruling out the possibility of sabotage and adding that the fire
 was brought under control and that no one had been hurt. -Internews

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