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Central & South Asia
Dozens killed in Pakistan border attack
Officials say at least 25 people killed in latest round of fighting along the border with Afghanistan.
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2011 12:08
Some 200 to 300 'terrorists' based in Afghanistan attacked seven check posts, says the Pakistan military [AFP]

Taliban fighters have killed 25 Pakistani troops in a cross-border raid, the military said, in the latest round of problems between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Some 200 to 300 "terrorists" based in Afghanistan attacked seven paramilitary Frontier Corps check posts in the northwestern district of Chitral on Saturday morning, Pakistan's military said in a statement.

Al Jazeera correspondent Kamal Hyder said the attack was the "latest in a series of similar attacks" along the volatile border region.

The term "terrorists" is frequently used by the military for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked groups. The military said both Pakistani and Afghan fighters were involved.

"At least 25 security forces personnel embraced shahadat [martyrdom] in the attack," the statement said, adding that the attack was launched "from across the border".

About 20 of the militants were believed to have been killed. The border posts were overrun by militants, but reinforcements have now been sent, it said.

The Pakistani military said that those believed to have co-ordinated the raid - including a radical cleric from the Swat Valley, Maulanah Fazlullah, and a Pakistani Taliban commander from Bajaur, Faqir Muhammad - had previously fled into Afghanistan in the face of Pakistani military offensives.

'Safe havens'

"Since their expulsion from their native areas, the terrorists have organised themselves in Kunar and Nuristan provinces with the support of local Afghan authorities," the military statement said.

It said the "scanty presence of NATO and ANA [Afghan National Army] forces" along the border had led to "safe havens" for militants on the Afghan side, allowing them to launch attacks in Pakistan.

It was the latest in a series of alleged cross-border incidents, many of which have raised tensions between the neighbours as the Afghan war continues to claim a high toll after almost 10 years.

In July, more than 20 mortar shells from Afghanistan killed four Pakistani soldiers and wounded two others in South Waziristan. Pakistani officials blamed the Afghan army for that attack.

And in the same month, hundreds of Afghans took to the streets to protest over cross-border rocket attacks that they claimed had killed dozens of people in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces.

A diplomatic dispute over both military and insurgent cross-border attacks also escalated at that time, with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, protesting to Pakistan's army chief and Pakistan's prime minister complaining back to Karzai.

Chitral is part of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and borders the region where the military waged a major offensive to put down a local Taliban insurgency in Lower Dir, Buner and Swat in 2009.

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Source:
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