Pakistan army concerned over Afghan militant `safe havens`, threatens response


By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s army said on Friday it was seriously concerned that militants had found safe havens in neighbouring Afghanistan and threatened to take an “effective response” two days after 12 of its soldiers died in two attacks.

Nine soldiers died after Islamist fighters stormed an army base in Pakistan’s southern Balochistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, and three more were killed in an exchange of fire in the area on Wednesday, the military said.

The army has “serious concerns on the safe havens and liberty of action available to TTP in Afghanistan,” it said, referring to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militant umbrella group.

“Such attacks are intolerable and would elicit effective response from the security forces of Pakistan,” it said, without spelling out who it might target with its response.

“The involvement of Afghan nationals in acts of terrorism in Pakistan is another important concern that needs to be addressed,” it added.

The foreign ministry of Afghanistan’s Taliban administration did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Kabul has denied past accusations that it allows militant groups to launch attacks on Pakistan from its territory.

Balochistan is a mineral-rich region that has been troubled by a decades-old ethnic Baloch insurgency.

Islamist militants, who aim to overthrow the Pakistani government and install their own brand of strict Islamic law in the predominantly Muslim country of 220 million people, have also been active in Balochistan.

They have stepped up attacks since revoking a ceasefire agreement with the government in late 2022, including the bombing of a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed more than 100 people earlier this year.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad)

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