Pakistan says overnight “terrorist” attacks from across the Afghan border have killed at least six soldiers, reiterating a call for Kabul to boost security on the Afghan side of the largely porous frontier.
A military statement said Monday terrorists stormed three border posts in the Mohamand tribal district in an area adjacent to Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, causing the troop fatalities.
“Effective presence, vigilance and response repulsed terrorists’ attempt,” it added, and asserted that at least 10 assailants were also killed in the gunfight.
A splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jammatul Ahrar, took credit for what it described as a surprise assault. The group claimed the clash only wounded six of its fighters. It was not possible to verify the militant claims from independent sources.
The Pakistani military called on Afghanistan to put in place “matching and effective” security measures on its side of the border to deny terrorists "freedom of movement and action along the border.”
The Foreign Ministry later summoned the deputy head of the Afghan embassy in Islamabad and “launched a strong protest” over the cross-border raid.
“The Afghan Government was urged to thoroughly investigate the incidents and take firm action against the terrorists operating from its soil to prevent recurrence of such incidents,” according to a ministry statement.
The Pakistan government maintains that Jammatul Ahrar and other anti-state fugitive militants have established sanctuaries in Afghanistan and plot cross-border violence, including last month’s string of suicide bombings that killed scores of people.
The attacks prompted Islamabad to close its traditional Afghan border crossings. The Pakistani army also handed over a list of 76 fugitive militants to Kabul and demanded swift action against them.
Afghan National Security Advisor Haneef Atmar, however, has again demanded that for effective cooperation against regional terrorism, Pakistan also needs to take action on an Afghan list of “86 people and 32 training centers of the terrorists” Kabul has submitted to the neighboring country.
The Afghan advisor was addressing an international seminar Monday in India.
“There is only one way for us to go ahead; you act on our list, we will act on your list, and we need to have a third party to verify. We are ready to do that, are you? That was the proposal we have put on the table,” said Atmar.
Islamabad has ignored repeated Afghan calls for opening the border, a move that has stranded thousands of travelers on both sides and halted bilateral as well as transit trade activities to and from landlocked Afghanistan.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a largely porous border of about 2,600 kilometers and regularly accuse each other of harboring militants wanted on both sides.