Pakistan to open Afghan crossings closed in wake of attacks 

Pakistan will temporarily open two border crossings with Afghanistan that were closed after a string of militant attacks.

Published: 06th March 2017 09:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2017 11:25 PM   |  A+A-

By Associated Press

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will temporarily open two border crossings with Afghanistan that were closed after a string of militant attacks, officials said Monday.

The Torkham and Chaman crossings will be open Tuesday and Wednesday and Afghans with valid visas will be allowed to return home, as will Pakistanis who travelled to Afghanistan with valid visas, Pakistan's Foreign 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 porous frontier.

Islamic militants attacked several Pakistani military posts in tribal regions along the Afghan border on Monday, killing six soldiers, the army said.

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, Attaullah 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.

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