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Pakistan kills 12 ‘terrorists’ tied to Afghanistan-based group



Pakistan kills 12 ‘terrorists’ tied to Afghanistan-based group

Pakistan kills 12 ‘terrorists’ tied to Afghanistan-based group

In this Aug. 3, 2021 file photo, Pakistan Army troops patrol along the fence on the Pakistan Afghanistan border at Big Ben hilltop post in Khyber district, Pakistan. PHOTO/COURTESY: REUTERS

  • The military identified the slain men as “terrorists” from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the Pakistani Taliban, an offshoot and ally of Afghanistan’s ruling Islamist Taliban.

Authorities in Pakistan said
Wednesday a pre-dawn counterterrorism military operation in a turbulent
northwestern district had killed 12 insurgents linked to an extremist banned
group, which allegedly operates out of Afghan sanctuaries.

The military identified the
slain men as “terrorists” from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the
Pakistani Taliban, an offshoot and ally of Afghanistan’s ruling Islamist

The army statement noted its
“intelligence tentacles” had enabled security forces to intercept and eliminate
the TTP insurgents in Lakki Marwat, a violence-hit district in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa border province.

“Weapons, ammunition, and
Afghan currency were also recovered from the terrorists during the operation,”
the statement said.

The anti-terror military
action comes amid a spate of TTP attacks in Pakistan in recent weeks that has
killed hundreds of people, including security forces, and strained Islamabad’s
otherwise friendly ties with the Taliban regime in Kabul.

The central spokesman for the Afghan
Taliban has again rejected allegations that cross-border terrorism in Pakistan
is emanating from his country.

“The Islamic Emirate is making
all possible efforts to counter activities on Afghan soil that could be
detrimental to others,” Zabihullah Mujahid told VOA by phone, using the
official title for the Taliban administration in Kabul.

However, Mujahid urged
Pakistani authorities to desist from “swiftly” pointing fingers at his country
for domestic acts of terrorism even before thoroughly investigating such

“We seek peace and security in
both countries. We have seen the destruction wars caused in Afghanistan and we
don’t want anyone, including Pakistan, to suffer from it,” he said.

“Pakistan is a close neighbor,
a friendly and brotherly country. It is an important relationship for us, and
we would never want to spoil it.”

Mujahid added his
administration would welcome Pakistani officials if they intended to visit
Afghanistan for counterterrorism discussions and cooperation.

Last week, a powerful bomb
blast at a mosque in the highly secured police headquarters in Peshawar, the
capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, killed nearly 100 people and injured many more.
The victims were mostly security forces.

TTP denied its involvement in
the bombing, but Pakistani officials blamed the group and renewed calls for
Kabul to rein in the insurgents, further straining bilateral relations.

The Taliban retook control of
Afghanistan in August 2021 as the United States and NATO allies withdrew from
the country after two decades of war with the then-insurgent Taliban.

The hardline group has since
imposed harsh Islamic laws based on its own interpretation of Islam to govern
the country, barring women from work and education.

The Pakistani Taliban,
designated as a global terrorist organization by the United States, has long
been waging terrorism in Pakistan. The violence has killed thousands of people,
including civilians and security forces.

TTP seeks to establish a
Taliban-style Islamic Shariah-compliant state in Pakistan through violence.
Pakistani officials and religious scholars reject the campaign as anti-Islam
and an illegitimate armed struggle against the country.

Recent United Nations
assessments have suggested the return of the Taliban to power in Kabul
emboldened the Pakistani Taliban.

There are some 4,000 TTP
fighters based in Afghan areas bordering Pakistan, and they make up the largest
group of foreign fighters in the conflict-torn country, according to the U.N.

“The Pakistan Taliban has been
scaling up its attacks over the last few years, mostly targeting security
forces in rural areas near the border,” Michael Kugelman, the director of the
South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington told VOA.

Kugelman said the growing
terror threat was not good news for Pakistani leaders’ efforts to tackle a
severe economic crisis and a lingering political turmoil in the country

The violence, Kugelman said,
“will deepen pressure on the state to launch a new counterterrorism offensive
that has been resisted so far due to economic stress and a preference for talks
with the militants,” he said earlier this week in a written response,
commenting on the wake of rising TTP attacks.

“Even if those talks are
essentially dead in the water,” he said.

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