Pakistan kills 71 militants from Afghanistan in 3-day operation

13:44, June 05, 2011      

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After a three-day operation, Pakistani security forces killed 71 militants who carried out cross-border attacks from Afghanistan, police said Saturday.

A police official in Peshawar said the militants were beaten back but the search operation is still under way in the country's northwestern district of Dir near the border with Afghanistan.

On Wednesday morning, 300 to 400 militants sneaked cross the border into Pakistan and attacked a security checkpost in Upper Dir district. In the pre-dawn shootout, at least 27 security troops and 45 militants were killed.

Afghan militants again entered border areas of the Upper Dir district on Friday, officials said, but the authorities had dispatched gunships to target the militants.

A police official in Dir said local people had forced the militants to flee after a fierce gunfight. He said that the militants had come from Afghanistan across the border to target villages and burn schools.

Another senior police official in Dir said that army and police personnel had launched a joint operation to clear the area of militants.

He said that the militants were mainly Afghan Taliban, but there were also some Taliban fighters from Swat and Lower Dir.

Also on Friday, Pakistani Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack on the checkpost. "Up to 40 to 50 of our fighters took part in the operation," said a spokesperson for TTP, who identified himself as Ehsanullah Ehsan, over telephone.

"We are in close contact with Afghan Taliban. Both of us want to get rid of America and its slaves. Our activities will continue, " said Ehsan.

The exact location where militants carried out an armed assault lies about 20 kilometers inside the Pakistani territory, sharing a common border with Afghan province of Kunar that has remained a center for al-Qaida and other militants in the past.

Late Thursday night, Pakistani Foreign Office summoned Afghan envoy and lodged a protest over the attacks by Afghan militants on the checkpost and villages adjacent to the Afghan border.

The Foreign Secretary stressed the need for stern action by the Afghan army to put a strong check on militants to avoid any such attacks in the future.

The statement also said that Pakistan would lodge protest with NATO forces to take serious measures against militants and their hideouts in Afghanistan and against organizational support for the militants.

In the past Pakistan complained that NATO doesn't deploy enough troops along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to avoid cross-border insurgency. On the other hand, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen while addressing a press conference in Brussels asked Pakistan to intensify the war on border.

The cross-border attacks came at the time when the United States is pushing Pakistan to do more against militants and their safe havens in northwestern Pakistan. Some media reports revealed that the Pakistani army is planning to carry out an exclusive military offensive in the nearby North Waziristan but the army denied the news.

Source: Xinhua

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