Clashes on Pakistan-Afghanistan border kill 15
Ten fighters and five soldiers dead after border posts targeted in attacks claimed by a faction of Pakistani Taliban.
Photo: Pakistan sealed border crossings with Afghanistan following last month’s attacks [Al Jazeera]
At least 15 people have been killed in clashes on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border after Pakistani Taliban fighters attacked three border posts in Pakistan’s Mohmand tribal area, according to the military.
A Pakistan military statement said on Monday that 10 fighters were killed and five soldiers lost their lives in the attacks that occurred late on Sunday.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,500km-long border, which is largely unpatrolled and disputed by Afghanistan.
“[This attack] emphasises the need for required physical presence on the Afghan side of the border,” the statement said.
“Terrorists are a common threat and must be denied freedom of movement or action along the border.”
In a statement emailed to journalists, the Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“This attack was a part of Jamaat-ur-Ahrar’s previously announced Operation Ghazi, which targets the enemies of Islam and is ongoing with full force,” the statement said.
The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks last month, including suicide bombings against police in the eastern city of Lahore; attacks on government employees in the northwestern town of Ghalanai; and an explosion in a court complex in Charsadda district.
Pakistan sealed all border crossings with its northwestern neighbour following those attacks, which together with the 88 killed at a shrine in Sindh province claimed more than 120 lives.
Pakistan’s foreign office announced on Monday that two border crossings would be reopened for 48 hours on Tuesday to allow stranded visitors in either country to return home.
That announcement came hours after a senior Afghan diplomat was summoned to the foreign office to protest over the latest border attacks, urging Afghanistan to “take firm action against terrorists operating from its soil to prevent recurrence of such incidents”, according to a statement.
The statement said a soldier was killed in a similar attack on a border post in Pakistan’s Khyber tribal area.
Afghanistan denies it has allowed its territory to be used against Pakistan, accusing its neighbour of giving sanctuary to leaders of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
Pakistan denies the charge.
Last month, both countries exchanged lists of fighters they believed to be hiding in each other’s territory, demanding action be taken against them.
By Asad Hashim