Intense clashes erupted in various regions of the Af-Pak border in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as Pakistani security forces clashed with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in Chitral in the north and separately opened fire on the Islamic Emirate’s (Afghanistan) forces at the Torkham border in the south.
The caretaker foreign minister of Pakistan, Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Friday that the attack on two border posts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Lower Chitral district was an “isolated incident” and not sanctioned by the interim Afghan government.
On Wednesday, four soldiers died while five soldiers were injured as Pakistani forces tried to stop infiltration from across the Afghan border. Dawn reported that at least 16 TTP militants were killed in retaliatory action.
The TTP militants attacked border security check posts on the Nuristan-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa border on Wednesday morning. Pakistan reportedly shared the movement of the TTP militants and shared their locations with the Afghan government.
BIG: Reliable sources from TTP Nooristan & Kailash Valley of #Chitral said, hundreds of Afghan & Pakistani Taliban entered Chitral city by crossing Nooristan-Bamburd border & have taken over government buildings of #Pakistan. The fighters may attack Chinese sites also pic.twitter.com/YqUWZ2Q4oi
— Frontalforce 🇮🇳 (@FrontalForce) September 8, 2023
On the other side of the border, the Afghan media too reported that the TTP launched a large-scale military offensive named ‘Operation Malakand’ targeting the Pakistani army. The Afghan media reported that the attack resulted in the capture of many villages inside Pakistan.
A statement by TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said that the assault was directed only at Pakistani security forces and not meant against the villagers, reported Afghan media agency Khaama.
Reports say that hundreds of TTP fighters, ranging between 250-300, have crossed the border into Pakistan. Reports also say that the TTP militants are armed with modern American weapons which were left behind by the US and NATO forces at the time of their withdrawal in 2021. The weapons had been brought by the US for Afghan troops which catapulted under the Taliban onslaught, forcing the US Army to leave behind the weapons.
The second clash took place at the Torkham border crossing, which also is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesperson for the Islamic Emirate said that one Afghan soldier died and two were injured due to the clashes. He called for talks to resolve the tensions. “We ask the Pakistani side to be cautious in these cases, because it is natural that firing on one side causes problems, it takes people’s lives, and both of us face problems here. We should solve problems through dialogue and we have joint committees for it”, Mujahid said.
According to the Afghan media, the Pakistani military opened fire after it spotted Afghan security forces building checkpoints. The Tolo news agency quoted the head of the Department of Information and Culture of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, Qureshi Badlon, that the Pakistani military opened fire first. He said in a statement that the clash was stopped.
Pakistani media says that any construction on the border has to be approved by both nations, which was violated by the Afghan government. Both the Islamic nations have placed heavy weapons on the border after the clashes. They have also rushed in reinforcements.
The border crossing which is vital for both countries has been blocked for two days now. It is a lifeline for the landlocked Afghanistan while it allows Pakistan to export its agricultural produce, including perishable commodities, to Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics.
Torkham has been closed down abruptly several times due to tensions and fighting between the security forces of the two nations earlier also.