Taliban strikes back after Pakistan's deadly attack in Afghanistan

Islamabad warned of consequences over actions the Afghan Taliban say killed five women and three children

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the air strikes in Khost and Paktika provinces hit civilian homes. AFP
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The Taliban's Defence Ministry said on Monday it had attacked Pakistani troops at the border in response to Pakistan's two air strikes on Afghan territory that killed eight women and children.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan does not allow anyone to compromise security by using Afghan territory,” Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Taliban administration, said.

Pakistan's army and foreign office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strikes.

Mr Mujahid said Pakistani aircraft carried out the attack at about 3am, which hit civilian homes in Khost and Paktika provinces near the border separating the two countries.

Three women and three children were killed in the Barmal district of Paktika and two women died in the Serpera district of Khost, he posted on X.

Describing the “reckless” attacks as a breach of Afghanistan's territory, he said: “Such incidents can have very bad consequences, which will be out [of] Pakistan's control.”

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan's government or military.

The reported strikes came after seven Pakistani troops were killed in an attack on Saturday on a military post in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, for which the Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to retaliate.

“Pakistan has decided that whoever will enter our borders, homes or country and commit terror, we will respond to them strongly, regardless of who it is or from which country,” Mr Zardari said, while attending the funeral prayers of the soldiers killed, including a lieutenant colonel.

The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Fursan-e-Muhammad, a new militant group that Pakistani security officials believe to be made up of members of the outlawed Tahrik-e-Taliban (TTP), which often carries out attacks against Pakistani soldiers and police.

Border areas have long been a stronghold for militant groups such as the TTP, which has strong links to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan says these groups operate from the Afghanistan side of the border.

The TTP issued a statement denying that they were the targets of Monday's air strikes, saying their members operate within Pakistan.

Border tensions between Islamabad and Kabul have risen since the Afghan Taliban seized power in 2021, which was followed by an increase in militant activity in Pakistan.

In 2022, Taliban authorities said Pakistani military helicopters carried out strikes along the Afghan side of the border that killed at least 47 people.

Updated: March 18, 2024, 11:47 AM