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July 30, 2014

Pakistan Says it 'Foiled' Cross-Border Militant Attack

by Ayaz Gul

Pakistan said it has repulsed an attack on a military outpost by Afghanistan-based militants, killing at least seven attackers.  The foreign ministry later summoned a senior Afghan diplomat to urge Kabul to take steps to stop border incursions by anti-Pakistan groups.
 
Army officials say a group of up to 80 “terrorists” invaded a border outpost in the northwestern Lower Dir district Tuesday night.
 
They said Pakistani troops repulsed the raid and inflicted heavy casualties on the attackers.  
 
Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned a senior Afghan diplomat (the Afghan embassy's charge d’affaires in Islamabad ) to lodge a strong protest about what it called “another attack launched by terrorists from across the Afghan border.”  It urged the Kabul government to take effective steps to stop what it said was the use of Afghan soil for repeated cross-border fire and physical aggression against Pakistan.  
 
Speaking to VOA, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, Serajulhaq Seraj, rejected the Pakistani claims.  In turn, he criticized Islamabad for summoning the Afghan diplomat, alleging that such actions are meant to “cover up” repeated border violations originating from Pakistan.  “The Afghan government will not allow anyone to misuse the Afghan soil against its neighbors,” stated Seraj.
 
Tuesday’s fighting occurred close to the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan where Islamabad said fugitive anti-Pakistan militants have set up bases to stage cross-border attacks.  
 
The incident comes while Pakistani troops are conducting counterinsurgency operations in another border area farther south, the tribal region of North Waziristan.  Afghanistan has long asserted that the area serves as a training and recruiting ground for the Afghan Taliban insurgency.  
 

​​In a recent interview, Pakistani army spokesman Major-General Asim Bajwa told VOA the Waziristan offensive is aimed at eliminating all terrorists based there.  He said Islamabad expects Kabul to take similar steps to uproot bases of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan or TTP on the Afghan side of the border.    
 
“The TTP sanctuary inside Afghanistan, especially the one in Kunar and Nuristan, we have been saying that again and again those must be targeted by Afghans and they should either eliminate them or they should hand them over to Pakistan,” said Bajwa.
 
The two countries share a 2,500- kilometer mostly porous border, and militants on both sides often launch cross-border attacks before going back.  Pakistan and Afghanistan accuse each other’s intelligence agencies of supporting these fighters to fuel insurgencies on their respective soils.