Attacks in Nangarhar displace 2,000 families
JALALABAD (PAN): As many as 2,000 Afghan families have been displaced as a result of ground and air assaults by Pakistani forces on Goshta district of eastern Nangarhar province, officials said on Wednesday.
Pakistani troops have been shelling different parts of the border town over the past three days, causing heavy losses to residents, the district chief, Said Rahman, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
At least 30 mortar shells fired from across the Durand Line, the de facto border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, have landed on Afghan soil since Monday, forcing 2,000 households to move to Daurkhel, Mamakhel and Khwezai villages of the district.
"In a return to its past policy of expansionism, Islamabad is once again trying to occupy Afghan territory," the district chief alleged, saying he had sent a detailed report on the situation to Governor Gul Agha Sherzai.
The UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, has promised to assist the affected families, according to Rahman, who said residents and tribal elders were ready to lay down their lives to defend their territory.
A Shamshad Zone soldier was wounded in the cross-border assault -- the second in less than a month -- on Khogakhel, Maher and Trili areas. The incident came days after Afghan security officials lodged a strong complaint about a similar raid on Feb. 2 at a recent meeting between the two countries and coalition officials at Bagram Airbase.
A day earlier, a military spokesman in Islamabad said he was unaware of the incursion. Pakistani troops conducted counterinsurgency operations on their own soil and never strayed into Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas insisted.
But Col. Abdul Basir, commander of the 4th Afghan army battalion in Goshta, accused Pakistani soldiers of targeting a number of border posts in addition to conducting four air raids over the last few days. "We haven't lost even an inch of our territory which we are prepared to defend at any cost."
Abdullah Loqman, an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier in the district, said: "I'm shell-shocked to see women migrating from the area. In a situation like this, I seethe with anger and want to take drastic steps. However, the commander doesn't allow me."
The Afghan government was turning a blind eye to the overt aggression by the neighbouring country, alleged tribal elder Ghulam Ahmad Momand, one of the many residents who beat back a Pakistani incursion six years ago.
Trili, Shagai, Kulak, Lakare, Totaki, Shedgai, Wuch Tal, Salala and Munir villages have been abandoned, he claimed.
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