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Troops clash with ‘hundreds’ of Pakistan Taleban near Afghan border

PESHAWAR (AFP) – Pakistan troops repelled a cross-border raid from Afghanistan by “hundreds” of Pakistan Taleban militants on Wednesday, a senior official said, with extra forces rushed to the frontier region.

Pakistan’s home-grown Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) movement has been emboldened by the return to power of the Taleban in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2021.

“They were in hundreds and were armed with light and heavy weapons. We were ready to face the attack and exchange of fire continued for some four hours,” Deputy Commissioner of Chitral District Mohammad Ali told AFP.

In a statement, the Pakistan military’s public relations wing said “a large group of terrorists equipped with latest weapons” attacked two outposts in the area.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said four Pakistan troops and 12 terrorists were killed.

“We were monitoring their movements in areas close to the border for two or three days,” Deputy Commissioner Ali said. “Informers have also sent us information about the militant group movement.”

In a statement, the TTP claimed to have seized two military posts in the Bomburit area of Chitral, which is around 200 kilometres northwest of the capital Islamabad.

The group was founded in 2007, when militants who fought alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan splintered off to focus their insurgency against Islamabad.

Police official Karim Khan told AFP that security forces had sealed entry to Chitral, an area of steep hills and valleys popular with domestic tourists. Another official said troops and paramilitary forces had been rushed in to reinforce the district.

“Sanitisation of the area is being carried out to eliminate any other terrorists,” ISPR said.

A Taleban security personnel sits on a chair along the roadside in Kabul, Afghanistan. PHOTO: AFP