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Afghanistan Denies Role in Pakistan Raid

Pakistani security officials rush a colleague to a local hospital in Peshawar after the Taliban launched a brazen assault on a military base, Sept. 18, 2015.

Afghanistan has rejected and denied charges that a terrorist attack on a military base in northwestern Pakistan was planned and launched from Afghan territory.

The attack on Pakistan's Badhaber air force base, near Peshawar, killed at least 29 people, both members of the military and civilians. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the bloodshed Friday.

Soon after the raid, a Pakistani army spokesman told reporters that intercepted communications showed the heavily armed gunmen were under the direction of "handlers" located across the border in Afghanistan.

Strong rejection

However, the Afghan president's office said Saturday that it "strongly rejects" the charges as baseless." The statement in Kabul said Afghanistan "has never nor will it ever allow its territory to be used against other states."

Afghanistan's message urged Pakistan to fight alongside Afghan forces in a joint campaign targeting all terrorist groups, in the interest of ensuring peace and stability in the area around their troubled border.

Pakistani military officials said security forces killed all 13 gunmen involved in Friday's attack, and identified them as members of a splinter faction of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Mohammad Khurasani, said the attack on the base was carried out by 16 suicide bombers, and he claimed dozens of military personnel were killed.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have traded charges about alleged support for cross-border terror groups on a number of occasions. The statement issued in Kabul Saturday said Afghan authorities view all forms of terrorism as "the enemy of humanity," because there are no "good" or "bad" terrorists.

Pakistan army troops rush towards an air force base in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sept. 18, 2015.
Pakistan army troops rush towards an air force base in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sept. 18, 2015.

Afghanistan has long contended that counter-terrorist operations mounted by the Pakistani army have spared insurgents linked to the Afghan Taliban. Islamabad denies such charges, and has its own counter-claims against Kabul.

Suspects detained

Pakistani authorities said Saturday that police have rounded up dozens of suspects in connection with the assault on the air force base, which was carried out by two groups of militants disguising themselves as members of government paramilitary forces.

One group of the attackers burst into a mosque that is part of the residential compound at the air base. Opening fire during early-morning prayers, they killed 16 worshippers, according to a Pakistani military spokesman.

Pakistani security officials said warplanes launched airstrikes against suspected militant hideouts near the Afghan border Saturday, killing at least 15 insurgents.

Islamabad alleges Islamist militants from Pakistan have been fleeing into Afghanistan and hiding out there to escape Pakistani counter-militancy operations against their strongholds.

Despite a recent thaw in icy relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the two states' fragile relations are being strained by the allegations flying back and forth across their border.