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Pakistan: Taliban resorted to ‘indiscriminate firing’ on tense border

Taliban security personnel stand guard near the closed gates of the Torkham Border Terminal between Afghanistan and Pakistan. (File photo by AFP)

Pakistan has accused the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan of “indiscriminate firing” and constructing “unlawful structures” at a key border crossing that has been closed for nearly a week.

In a statement on Monday, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing” by the Afghan Taliban forces led to the closure of the crucial trade route between the two countries.

“On the 6th of September, instead of a peaceful resolution, Afghan troops resorted to indiscriminate firing, targeting Pakistan military posts, damaging the infrastructure at the Torkham Border Terminal, and putting the lives of both Pakistani and Afghan civilians at risk, when they were stopped from erecting such unlawful structures,” it said.

The Torkham border crossing in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been closed since September 6 after a deadly exchange of fire. Hundreds of trucks carrying essential goods have since been stranded on both sides.

The statement came a day after talks between the two neighbors on reopening the crossing failed.

On Saturday, the Taliban accused the Pakistani security forces of firing on its troops when they were repairing an “old security post.” It said Islamabad was “causing hindrances and delays” in opening the transit point.

Pakistan has alleged the Afghan forces were “illegally” building a new border post, which led to the exchange of fire. The Taliban said two of its guards were killed in the firing.

Pakistan’s allegation follows a surge in armed attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces since the Taliban came to power in 2021. Most such attacks are claimed by the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group. They are a separate militant group but an ally of the Afghan Taliban.

Afghanistan dismisses the allegation that it allows its soil to be used by armed groups to launch attacks on other nations.

On the day of the Torkham firing, the TTP claimed to have attacked two military checkpoints in the remote district of Chitral of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, killing four Pakistani soldiers.

Last week, Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said the US military equipment left behind during the withdrawal from Afghanistan had fallen into militant hands and ultimately made its way to the TTP group.

The TTP has a strong presence in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the region close to the Afghan border. The 2021 Afghan Taliban takeover has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban, who have stepped up attacks since then. The TTP fighters now target Pakistani troops from a distance, while before their only weapons were AK-47 assault rifles.

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