Pakistan to open Afghan crossings closed in wake of attacks

AP News
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Posted: Mar 06, 2017 12:35 PM

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan said Monday it will temporarily open two border crossings with Afghanistan that were closed after a string of militant attacks, while a new wave of assaults targeting several military posts near the porous frontier killed six Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said the Torkham and Chaman crossings will be open Tuesday and Wednesday. Afghans with valid visas will be allowed to return home, as will Pakistanis who traveled to Afghanistan with valid visas, the ministry said.

Pakistan shut the two main crossings with Afghanistan three weeks ago after a wave of suicide bombings that authorities said was linked to a group operating on the other side of the border. The two countries have long accused each other of ignoring militants that operate along the frontier.

The army said the attack on the military posts was carried out by militants who crossed over from Afghanistan into the Mohmand tribal region. It said 10 of the attackers were believed to have been killed as the rest retreated across the border.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban breakaway faction behind several recent attacks, claimed responsibility.

Pakistan says militants have retreated to sanctuaries in Afghanistan as it has stepped up military operations in tribal regions along the border in recent years.

Extremists have nevertheless managed to launch large-scale attacks against civilians, killing over 125 people last month, including 90 worshippers at a famed Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said earlier Monday that it had summoned the Afghan deputy head of mission to lodge a formal complaint over the attack on the military posts and to demand that Kabul take stronger action against armed groups.

A spokesman for the provincial governor in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, Attaullah Khogyani, said the Pakistani allegations were baseless.

Also on Monday, police in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi said they killed a wanted militant and arrested four others in a raid. Police identified the slain militant as Dildar Chacha, saying he was involved in several terrorist attacks in recent years and was running a sleeper cell of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group.

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Zarar Khan reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writers Asif Shahzad in Islamabad, Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, and Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.