Pakistan denies firing shells into Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD (PAN): Pakistan on Monday rejected accusations from Afghanistan that it had fired missiles into eastern Afghan provinces, killing dozens of people.
Afghan security officials say Pakistani troops have been firing missiles into Afghanistan's eastern Kunar and Nangarhar provinces for the past two weeks. So far 41 people, including 12 children, have been killed and 45 others wounded in the attacks, which have also forced hundreds of families to flee their homes.
But Pakistan's army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Tahir Abbas, told reporters in Islamabad on Monday that not a single round had intentionally been fired from Pakistan into Afghanistan.
He added that militants sneaking into Pakistan from Afghanistan had been attacking Pakistani security checkpoints. A number of Pakistani troops had been killed in attacks by Afghan Taliban, Abbas said.
However, he said it was possible that a few rounds might have accidentally fallen into Afghanistan when security forces targeted militants carrying out cross-border attacks into Pakistan.
The back-and-forth accusations have further strained the troubled relationship between the two countries. The Afghan government has repeatedly criticised Pakistan for not targeting Afghan Taliban militants who use its territory to launch cross-border attacks.
Pakistan has recently reversed this criticism, saying Afghan and NATO forces have not done enough to target Pakistani Taliban militants who have established sanctuaries in eastern Afghanistan and are using them to attack Pakistan.
Abbas claimed that there have been five cross-border attacks in the last month against Pakistani border posts, and that the attacks have killed 55 paramilitary soldiers and tribal policemen and injured 80 others. The attacks took place in the tribal areas of Bajaur and Mohmand and in the settled area of Dir, he said.
"The fleeing militants were engaged by the security forces, and a few accidental rounds going across (into Afghanistan) cannot be ruled out,” Abbas said.
President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accused Pakistan of firing 470 rockets into the eastern provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar and said "they should be stopped immediately."
”The government of Pakistan should understand that there will be a reaction for killing Afghan citizens,” said Afghan Defence Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi.
Afghan Border Police Spokesman Idris Mohmand, who reported 36 Afghans killed by the rockets, including 12 children, said 2,000 families have fled the Asmar and Nangalam districts of Kunar and the Gushta district of Nangarhar. He said so far 530 shells fired from Pakistan had landed in Afghanistan.