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Afghanistan hits back after Pakistani air strikes kill eight

A security personnel stands guard at a checkpoint during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Peshawar on March 14, 2024. (Abdul Majeed/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Afghanistan’s forces targeted Pakistani military posts along the border, retaliating against air strikes that killed eight people in what has become the first known counterattack from the Taliban since they took power more than two years ago.

The National Islamic Army of Afghanistan is responding to Pakistan by targeting the military posts along the border with “heavy weapons,” the Taliban-controlled Ministry of Defense said in a post on X. “The defense and security forces are ready to respond to any aggressive actions.”

The move followed Pakistan’s military air strikes in east Afghanistan on early Monday, which left five women and three children dead. The Taliban called the attack a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty, warning there will be severe consequences.

Tensions between the two countries have been rising since the Taliban took power in 2021. Islamabad has repeatedly claimed that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the TTP, have threatened to overthrow the government and are sheltering in Afghanistan. Kabul rejects these allegations.

A Pakistani official confirmed Monday’s strikes but asked not to be named as he is not authorized to speak to media. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the military did not respond to a request for a comment.

A local offshoot of the Taliban, the TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack killing at least 100 people last year in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar — one of the deadliest in recent history. Pakistan has said it will target these militants if Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are reluctant to rein them in.

Taliban leaders, including Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani — who was once seen as a close collaborator with Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, had warned Islamabad in the past for carrying out such strikes on Afghan soil.

The air strikes on early Monday came two days after a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden truck into a military post in northwest Pakistan. Seven soldiers were killed.


© 2024 Bloomberg News

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