In another confrontation between the Pakistan Army and the country's Taliban extremists, at least four Pakistani soldiers were killed and seven others were injured as the Army repelled an attack by terrorists belonging to the Pakistani Taliban close to the border with Afghanistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's Chitral district on Wednesday.
According to a statement by Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), a "large group of terrorists" attacked two Pakistani military posts located near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Chitral, Geo News reported.
The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack on the Ostai security check-post and Janjeerat Koh check-post in the Chitral district. Four helicopters were forced to make emergency landing to handle the chaotic situation. The terrorists were armed with "latest weapons" claimed the Pakistani Army.
During the exchange of fire, 12 terrorists were killed while a large number of their forces were critically injured. The ISPR said that a sanitisation of the area was being carried out to eliminate any other militants in the area.
The Pakistan military's media wing said that the terrorists were concentrated in Gawardesh, Pitigal, Barg-e-Matel and Batash areas in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan and their movement has been identified and shared with the Afghan government.
The Army called on the interim Afghan government to fulfill its obligations and deny the use of Pakistani Taliban members to perpetuate acts of terrorism against Pakistan. The attack came days after Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir said that the country cannot by "coerced by cowardly tactics of the terrorists".
Confrontations between TTP and Pakistan
Angered by Pakistan's cooperation with Washington in the war on terrorism, the TTP was officially set up by Pakistani militants in 2007 when different outlawed groups agreed to work together against Pakistan and support the Afghan Taliban, who were fighting U.S. and NATO forces.
The TTP has stepped up attacks on Pakistani soldiers and police since November, when it unilaterally ended a cease-fire with the government after the failure of months of talks, hosted by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in Kabul. The TTP has repeatedly warned police not to take part in operations against its fighters in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The Pakistani Taliban regularly carry out shootings or bombings, especially in rugged and remote northwestern Pakistan, a former TTP stronghold. The violence has raised fears among residents of a possible military operation in the former tribal regions of North and South Waziristan, now two districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Relations between TTP and Afghan Taliban
The TTP is separate from but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, and that group’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 emboldened the TTP, which shares the group’s ideology. TTP fighters used to hide in Pakistan’s tribal northwest and also had sanctuary in Afghanistan, but they mostly lived a fugitive existence.
The Taliban have repeatedly said they will not allow anyone, including the TTP, to use Afghan soil for attacks against any country, including Pakistan. But Pakistani officials say there is a disconnect between the words and actions of the Afghan Taliban, who could stop the TTP from launching attacks inside the country but are failing to do so.
Pakistan-Afghanistan border closed
Meanwhile, the Pakistan and Afghanistan border forces exchanged fire at the Torkham border, causing the main point of transit for travellers and goods to close on Wednesday, Dawn reported. Two people, including a Frontier Corps (FC) official, were injured in the attack.
The exchange of fire emerged after Afghan authorities reportedly started building a checkpoint on Pakistan's side in a prohibited area that was close to the main border. Pakistan officials said that Afghan authorities built the checkpoint despite already having another checkpoint in the surroundings.
On the other hand, the Afghan Taliban government claimed that Pakistani forces attacked them when they wanted to reactivate their old outpost with an excavator. The firefight has resulted in casualties, but the exact figures are not yet known.
Disputes linked to the 2,600 km (1,615 miles) border have been a bone of contention between the neighbours for decades. The crossing at Torkham is a essential trading waypoint, where Afghanistan exports truckloads of coal and receives food and other supplies from Pakistan.
(with agency inputs)