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Taliban Says It Strikes Back After Deadly Pakistani Strikes


A Pakistani Army soldier stands guard on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (file photo)
A Pakistani Army soldier stands guard on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (file photo)

Afghanistan's Taliban-led government said its border forces targeted the Pakistani military installation along its eastern border in retaliation for two air strikes that Islamabad carried out on Afghan territory that killed eight people, including three children.

The Taliban's artillery shelling on March 18 came hours after Pakistani warplanes bombed "militant hideouts" inside Afghanistan that Islamabad said belonged to Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban.

In Kurram, a western district in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, locals confirmed the Taliban’s shelling of the area. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Haji Nowroz Ali, a local tribal leader, told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that a gunbattle between the Taliban and Pakistani forces ensued after four rockets were fired at the border village of Kharlachi from Afghanistan.

Pro-Taliban accounts on X, formerly Twitter, shared a video they claimed showed the Taliban's attacks on Pakistani installations in what appeared to be Kharlachi.

Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been on the rise since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces in August 2021. Islamabad accuses the conservative Islamist movement of harboring TTP militants on its territory and allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Pakistan. Afghanistan's ruling Taliban deny this.

At "around 3 a.m., Pakistani aircraft bombarded civilian homes" in Afghanistan's southeastern provinces of Khost and Paktika bordering Pakistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

"Pakistan should not blame Afghanistan for the lack of control, incompetence, and problems in its own territory," Mujahid said in a statement.

He added the strikes targeted Pakistan's Barmal district of Paktika and the Spera district of Khost, killing three women and three children in Paktika, and two women in Khost.

In a March 18 statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry defended the attacks.

"Certain elements among those in power in Afghanistan are actively patronizing the TTP and using them as a proxy against Pakistan," the statement said, adding that groups like the TTP are a collective security, which requires the two neighbors to "work toward finding joint solutions in countering terrorism and to prevent any terrorist organization from sabotaging bilateral relations."

Pakistani officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that the house of Abdullah Shah, one of the TTP commanders reportedly hiding in Afghanistan, was apparently targeted in the attacks in Paktika.

But Mujahid rejected the accusation and said Shah was inside Pakistan.

"The same [Pashtun] tribe lives on both sides [of the Durand Line border]. Its members frequently move among their communities," he said in a statement.

The TTP said the strikes targeted civilians, denying Shah's house had been hit.

The group issued a video in which Shah claimed to be present in the Shawal areas of Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan’s Paktika and Khost Provinces.

An unconfirmed social media post said "multiple" Pakistan strikes targeted the Paktika, Khost, and Kunar regions.

The reported strikes came after seven Pakistani soldiers were killed and 17 others wounded in a militant attack that targeted a sprawling army post in the volatile North Waziristan district near the Afghan border on March 16.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who attended the funeral of those killed in the attack on March 17, said Islamabad would give "a befitting reply to the terrorists" that perpetrated the attack.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

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