Pakistan’s military said Sunday five of its troops were killed when militants from across the Afghan border opened fire on them.
The attack, believed to be one of the deadliest such incidents in recent years, took place in the Pakistani district of Kurram on the border, the military’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
It said Pakistani troops retaliated and inflicted “heavy casualties” on the assailants but gave no further details.
“Pakistan strongly condemns the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for activities against Pakistan and expects that [the] interim Afghan government will not allow conduct of such activities against Pakistan, in future,” the army said.
Pakistan will defend its borders against “the menace of terrorism,” the statement said, adding that the sacrifices of “our brave men further strengthen our resolve.”
Militant attacks have increased in Pakistan since the Islamist Taliban seized power in Afghanistan last August and U.S.-led Western troops ended their two decade-long presence in the neighboring country.
The Pakistani military did not say which group it believed was behind Sunday’s attack. Officials have long maintained that leaders and fighters of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan TTP, are sheltering in Afghanistan after fleeing security operations against their hideouts in Pakistani border districts, and orchestrating terrorism from there.
It is widely believed that when the Afghan Taliban were waging a deadly insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and foreign troops, they took shelter in TTP-controlled Pakistani areas and recruited fighters from the Pakistani Taliban.
U.S. and Afghan officials also consistently accused the Pakistani military of covertly supporting the Afghan insurgency, charges Islamabad rejected.
The Taliban rulers have pledged to prevent transnational groups from using Afghanistan for attacks against other countries, but critics say the Islamist group is not living up to its commitments.
Late last year, Pakistani officials and the TTP said the Afghan Taliban had brokered a temporary cease-fire between the two adversaries to try to lay the foundation for peace talks. The 30-day truce expired in early December and the TTP refused to extend it, saying Islamabad violated its commitments. The government has denied the accusation.
Since then, the TTP, which the United Nations and United States have designated as a global terrorist organization, has intensified attacks against Pakistani security forces, killing dozens.