(Photo credit: The National News)
According to Afghan officials, at least 47 people were killed during airstrikes carried out by the Pakistani military on the provinces of Khost and Kunar on 16 April.
“Forty-one civilians, mainly women and children, were killed and 22 others were wounded in air strikes by Pakistani forces near the Durand Line in Khost province,” Shabir Ahmad Osmani, Khost’s Director of Information and Culture told media.
Since the Taliban victory on 15 August of last year, border skirmishes between the two countries have increased, with Pakistan claiming that militant groups have been carrying out regular cross-border attacks against Pakistani forces.
In recent months, Pakistan has been requesting that Taliban officials take a firm stance against militants using Afghan territory to launch attacks into Pakistan.
“Terrorists are using Afghan soil with impunity to carry out activities inside Pakistan,” Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said, noting that over the last few days attacks have increased significantly.
“Unfortunately, elements of banned terrorist groups in the border region, including TTP, have continued to attack Pakistan’s border security posts, resulting in the martyrdom of several Pakistani troops,” he added.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a Pakistani militant group operating on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Taliban have denied harboring these militants, and have called on all foreign fighters to leave Afghanistan.
Despite this, the situation has resulted in rising tensions between Afghan and Pakistani forces on their shared border.
“This is a cruelty and it is paving the way for enmity between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in condemnation of the airstrikes by Islamabad.
Ongoing clashes between Afghan and Pakistani forces have become more frequent in recent months.
On 8 April, local sources reported that the Taliban had targeted a Pakistani military helicopter which had entered Afghanistan’s border region. Several media outlets claimed that two Pakistani soldiers and a general were injured during the attack.
The Pakistani assault also resulted in protests across Afghanistan’s Khost province.