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Pakistan's deadly strikes on eastern Afghanistan

Photo: Mohsen Karimi Agence France-Presse A Taliban security personnel stands guard as Afghan Muslim worshipers pray in Herat, Afghanistan, March 15, 2024.

Pascale Trouillaud – Agence France-Presse and Abdullah Hasrat – Agence France-Presse to Kabul

2:50 p.m.

  • Asia

Pakistan carried out airstrikes on eastern Afghanistan early Monday that killed eight civilians and led to a response from Kabul with “heavy weapons” fire on border areas.

A few hours later, Washington called on Islamabad to “exercise restraint” and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to control extremists.

The Taliban government “strongly condemned these attacks”, through its spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, who threatened Islamabad with “consequences that Pakistan would not be able to control”.

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on X that it had summoned the Pakistani charge d'affaires to protest these strikes.

Since the return to power of the Taliban in Kabul in 2021, border tensions between the two Muslim countries have escalated.

Pakistan claims that armed groups, such as the Pakistani Taliban Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), carry out planned attacks from Afghan soil, across a very porous border.

“Around 3 a.m. Pakistani aircraft bombed the homes of civilians […] in the province of Paktika […] killing six people” and “in the province of Khost […] two women were killed,” announced Zabihullah Mujahid.

Both countries later reported border clashes.

The Afghan Defense Ministry announced that its forces responded to Pakistani strikes with “heavy weapons” fire on military targets on the border.

“The defense and security forces […] will defend territorial integrity at all costs,” ministry spokesperson Enayatullah Khwarizmi warned on X.

A Pakistani official in the border regions, who requested anonymity, confirmed to AFP that Afghan forces had bombarded Pakistani territory on Monday morning, leading to clashes with the Pakistani army.

“Announcements were made at mosques for evacuation of areas in Kurram and North Waziristan districts as sporadic clashes between Pakistan and Afghanistan take place on the border,” he said in the morning.

We did not know at the end of the afternoon whether the clashes were continuing.

Response “firm”

The air attacks come two days after attackers killed seven soldiers in northwest Pakistan's North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan.

This attack was attributed by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to “terrorists”.

He promised that Islamabad would respond “firmly” and “regardless of who it is and what country it comes from.”

The Afghan government has always denied harboring foreign armed groups using Afghan soil to launch attacks against its neighbors.

The TTP claimed in a statement on Monday that it had not been targeted by the Pakistani strikes, assuring that its members were operating from Pakistan.

For Pakistani analyst Saira Aqil, “Pakistan cannot afford to lose an ally like Afghanistan”, despite the increase in attacks on its soil which “inevitably lead to reprisals” .

“Combat aircraft and drones”

A tribal leader from the Spera district of Khost province told AFP that at 3:30 a.m. local time, a first drone had caused him and other residents to flee into the mountains.

“Then two fighter jets bombed [us], and then a drone,” and several people were killed.

“All those targeted were refugees from Waziristan, they are not terrorists,” he added. “The Pakistani government has forced us out of our homes [in Waziristan] and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not paying attention to us.”

Waziristan is one of the former semi-autonomous tribal areas in the northwest of the country, where the Pakistani army has carried out numerous operations against insurgents linked to the Al-Qaeda network and the Taliban after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by the United States and its NATO allies.

Many people from tribal areas took refuge in Afghanistan after the launch in 2014 of a military operation which made it possible to drive out the TTP.

The TTP had killed tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and members of the security forces between its creation in 2007 and 2014.

Firing by the Pakistani army against eastern Afghanistan in April 2022 left around fifty dead, Islamabad having demanded “severe measures” from Kabul against militants attacking its territory.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116