PESHAWAR, Pakistan â€” Islamic militants attacked several Pakistani military posts in tribal regions along the Afghan border, killing six soldiers, the army said Monday.
Pakistani troops repulsed the attackers, who had crossed overnight from Afghanistan into the Mohmand tribal region where three military posts were ambushed, the army statement said. It added that 10 of the attackers were believed to have been killed before the militants retreated over the border.
A Pakistani Taliban breakaway faction, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility. Pakistan has long been home to both local and al-Qaida linked foreign militants.
Several Pakistani military offensives have targeted the bases and infrastructure used by the militants in the country’s tribal regions, and Islamabad says some of the groups have shifted to sanctuaries across the Afghan border.
The militants have shown the ongoing capability to launch large-scale attacks, such as a string of suicide bombings last month that killed over 125. One single bombing killed 90 worshippers at a famed Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan.
The Pakistani Taliban, their allied local militants and the Islamic State group have claimed the brazen attacks.
Last month’s string of militant attacks in Pakistan prompted fresh tensions between Islamabad and Kabul, with Islamabad claiming they were planned and executed by militants enjoying safe haven across the border. Afghanistan has repeatedly made similar accusations about Afghan militants hiding inside Pakistan.
A spokesman for the provincial governor in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, Attaullha Khogyani, termed the Pakistani allegation baseless.
The Pakistani government has shut two main border crossings with Afghanistan for the past three weeks and Pakistani artillery has fired across the border.
On Monday the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that the Afghan deputy head of mission was summoned to lodge a formal protest with Kabul over the cross-border attack. It demanded Afghanistan to take firm action against the militants operating from its soil.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, one of the local groups, has surfaced as one of the deadliest militant factions. The group, which is based in the Mohmand tribal region, has claimed several major attacks over the past year.
Associated Press writers Asif Shahzad in Islamabad, Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan and Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.
Riaz Khan, The Associated Press