Taliban warn of ‘bad consequences’ after Pakistan airstrikes in Afghanistan

KABUL: Airstrikes by Pakistan’s military in Afghan territory could have “bad consequences,” Afghanistan’s Taliban government said on Monday after deadly attacks that killed five women and three children.

The airstrikes came two days after militants killed seven soldiers in northwest Pakistan. The neighbors traded blame over responsibility for the attacks that Islamabad alleged were launched from Afghan soil, a claim denied by Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban.

Taliban officials said Pakistan’s aircraft bombed civilian homes in Khost and Paktika provinces, which are located near the border with Pakistan, at around 3 a.m. on Monday.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the airstrikes after a long day of silence, saying that suspected militant targets in “border regions inside Afghanistan” had been targeted in an operation. 

The Taliban’s chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said earlier that five women and three children were killed in Monday’s strikes.

“Such incidents can have very bad consequences which will be out of Pakistan’s control,” Mujahid said in a statement.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns these attacks and calls this reckless action a violation of Afghanistan’s territory … The people of Pakistan and the new government should stop some army generals from continuing their wrong policies … and spoiling the relationship between the two neighboring Muslim nations.”

Pakistan should not blame Afghanistan “for the lack of control, incompetence and problems in its own territory,” he added.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned on Monday the acting head of Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul and handed him a formal letter of protest over the attacks.

Enayatullah Khwarizmi, spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Defense, said Afghan fighters have hit back at Pakistan’s military following the deadly airstrikes.

“In retaliation, the border forces of Islamic Emirate struck Pakistan’s military installations along the imaginary line with powerful weaponry,” Khwarizmi said in a statement.

“The nation’s defense and security forces stand prepared to counter any hostile incursions and will safeguard their territorial sovereignty under all circumstances.”

On Saturday, seven soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden truck into a military post in Mir Ali, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan.

The attack was claimed by a newly formed militant group, Jaish-e-Fursan-e-Muhammad, that Pakistan’s security officials believed comprises members of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan, or TTP, which often targets Pakistani soldiers and police.

Pakistani officials have blamed the uptick in militant attacks on the TTP, which Islamabad claims was emboldened by the Afghan Taliban takeover in 2021.

Monday’s attacks appear to have targeted suspected hideouts of the TTP and specifically its senior commander Abdullah Shah, who Mujahid said was in Pakistan.

Though the TTP pledged allegiance openly to the Afghan Taliban after the fall of Kabul in 2021, they were not accepted by the latter and remained a separate militant group.

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