12 terrorists killed as army repels TTP attack in Chitral

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday said it repelled a cross-border raid from Afghanistan by a large group of terrorists equipped with latest weapons targeting the two military posts located in the general area of Kalash in Chitral district.

During an exchange of fire, at least 12 terrorists were killed while four Pakistani soldiers embraced martyrdom, according to the military’s media wing.

The ISPR said owing to heightened threat environment, security was already on high alert.

“The valiant soldiers fought bravely and repulsed the attacks inflicting heavy casualties to the terrorists. During the fire exchange, twelve terrorists were sent to hell, while a large number has been critically injured.”

However, during the intense exchange of fire, four brave soldiers, having fought gallantly, embraced Shahadat. Terrorists’ movement and concentration in Gawardesh, Pitigal, Barg-e-Matel and Batash areas of Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan had already been picked up and were timely shared with the Interim Afghan government.

“Sanitization of the area is being carried out to eliminate any other terrorists found in the area,” the statement further said.

It said security forces were determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our soldiers further strengthen our resolve. “The brave people of Chitral also stand firmly with the security forces in not allowing the terrorists to ruin the peace of the area.”

It further noted that the interim Afghan government was expected to fulfill its obligations and deny the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for perpetuating acts of terrorism against Pakistan.

Earlier, the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed to have launched a “grand operation” in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Chitral district. A spokesperson of the TTP claimed that the terrorist outfit captured many villages in Chitral that shares border with Kunar, Nuristan and Badakhshan province of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and the Afghan forces exchanged fire on the border at Torkham, closing the main crossing point for trade and people’s movement between the two countries, officials said on Wednesday.
There was no word yet from either side over the latest skirmishes but officials privately said the clash was triggered by the Afghan side’s efforts to construct a post along the border.

As per the understanding between the two countries, any new construction on either side of the border at Torkham could only be executed after seeking approval from the other side.

However, according to the officials the Afghan side started constructing the new post without taking the Pakistani side into confidence leading to the clashes. There were no reports of casualties from either side.

However, the exchange of fire shut the key border crossing between the two countries. Footage circulating on the social media showed people were running for cover as gun shots could be heard in the background.

Hundreds of trucks carrying goods on both the sides were stranded due to the closure of the border. The official sources said both the sides activated the bilateral mechanism soon after the incident to calm the situation.

This was not the first time the Torkham border was shut. Previously, the two countries did exchange fire and there were casualties too. The silence from both the sides about the latest incident suggested that both the neighbouring countries were trying to downplay the incident.

According to Reuters, local residents reported the sound of gunfire by the Torkham crossing and said people around the busy border area near the Khyber Pass had fled once the firing started.

Security officials from the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Taliban and Pakistani forces had exchanged fire but there had not yet been any casualties.

A spokesman for the local government in Afghanistan’s Nangahar province, where the crossing is located, and a spokeswoman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

Disputes linked to the 2,600 km (1,615 miles) border have been a bone of contention between the neighbors for decades.

The crossing has been closed several times in recent years, including a closure in February that saw thousands of trucks laden with goods stranded on each side of the border for days.

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