Pakistan said Wednesday that a "large group of terrorists" had stormed its security outposts close to the border with Afghanistan, prompting fierce clashes that killed four soldiers and 12 assailants.
The early morning militant raid targeted two Pakistani posts in the northern mountainous Kalash border valley at an elevation of 1,670 meters (5,480 feet).
A Pakistani military statement said its soldiers had repulsed the attack, noting the assailants were "equipped with [the] latest weapons." It suggested that the militants had come across the border from Afghanistan.
The banned Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, claimed responsibility for the raid earlier. The group said its fighters had inflicted heavy casualties on Pakistani soldiers and seized their weapons while overrunning the posts.
TTP often issues inflated claims about its extremist activities.
The Pakistani military said its forces had previously detected "terrorists' movement and concentration" in several Afghan border areas opposite the Kalash region and "timely shared" it with Afghanistan's Taliban authorities.
The statement said the Taliban government "is expected to fulfill its obligations and deny the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for perpetuating acts of terrorism against Pakistan."
Taliban authorities in Afghanistan did not immediately comment on Pakistani assertions.
TTP, listed as a global terrorist outfit by the United States and the United Nations, is a known offshoot and close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who returned to power in Kabul two years ago.
Pakistani officials say TTP and other insurgent groups have fled and taken shelter in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led NATO troop withdrawal in August 2021. They say the insurgents enjoy greater freedom of movement to plot cross-border terrorism after the Taliban takeover of the war-shattered country.
Over the past two years, the increased TTP-led insurgent violence has killed more than 1,500 people in Pakistan. This year alone, more than 500 Pakistanis, mostly security forces, have died in militant attacks. They included at least 220 soldiers and officers, according to official data.
The Taliban deny the charges, saying no one can use Afghan soil to threaten other countries, including Pakistan.
Pakistani caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar repeatedly claimed this week that some of the equipment left behind by the U.S. military in Afghanistan has ended up with groups such as TTP.
"This surge in terrorism is happening because the fighting capacity of these outfits has been enhanced," Kakar told Islamabad-based international journalists on Monday.
The prime minister said that Islamabad was in close contact with Kabul to enhance bilateral security cooperation to combat the threat of cross-border terrorism.
The Taliban “are in a phase of transformation. I feel that room and space should be given to them," Kakar said when asked whether the de facto Afghan authorities are helping his country to counter the TTP-led threat of terrorism.