South Asia

Militants storm Pakistan border outposts; four soldiers, 12 insurgents killed

Fierce clashes broke out at two military outposts in northern Pakistan on Wednesday after a large group of “terrorists” opened fire on the soldiers. Four Pakistani soldiers died in the attack, while 12 militants were also killed, Pakistan’s military confirmed Thursday.

The incidents took place in the Kalash border valley in the Chitral district. In a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, Pakistan’s media wing, ISPR, said the “terrorists” had been equipped with the latest weapons.

According to the statement, “terrorists’ movement and concentration in Gawardesh, Pitigal, Barg-e-Matel and Batash areas of Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan had already been picked up and were timely shared with Interim Afghan Government (Taliban).”

The statement went on to say that owing to a heightened threat environment, all outposts were already on high alert.

“The valiant soldiers fought bravely and repulsed the attacks, inflicting heavy casualties to the terrorists. During the fire exchange, twelve terrorists were sent to hell, while a large number has been critically injured.

“However, during the intense exchange of fire, four brave soldiers, having fought gallantly, embraced Shahadat,” the statement read.

Officials did not give any details about the insurgents, but suggested they have links to neighboring Afghanistan and said the Taliban “is expected to fulfill its obligations and deny the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for perpetuating acts of terrorism against Pakistan.”

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, claimed responsibility for the raid and said its fighters had inflicted heavy casualties on Pakistani soldiers and seized their weapons while overrunning the posts.

This comes close on the heels of another clash Wednesday at Torkham crossing between border guards from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Separately, mortar fire hit a house in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border, killing five Pakistanis — a mother and her four children. It was not immediately clear who fired the mortar and police were investigating the attack in the North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, local authorities said.

Speaking to AP, Nasrullah Khan, an official in Torkham said Pakistani government and military officials were in contact with Afghanistan counterparts to defuse tensions.

Abdul Mateen Qani, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, confirmed the clash between the two sides and said officials from both sides were trying to find out the cause, and were seeking ways to prevent such clashes.

However, Torkham crossing remains closed for the second day, resulting in a backup of trucks carrying perishable items, including vegetables and fruits. This crossing is a vital commercial artery and a trade route to Central Asian countries for Pakistan.

These incidents came just two days after Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said US military equipment left behind during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan had fallen into militant hands and made its way to the TTP.