Afghan officials said Pakistan launched airstrikes on targets in the eastern provinces in Khost and Kunar early Saturday morning. According to local officials, at least 47 civilians were killed in the strikes.
“Forty-one civilians, mainly women and children, were killed and 22 others were wounded in airstrikes by Pakistani forces near the Durand Line in Khost province,” said Shabir Ahmad Osmani, the director of information and culture in Khost, in comments to AFP.
In Kunar, Afghan officials said six people were killed. Afghanistan’s TOLO News shared images of children’s bodies it said were killed in the attacks and reported that the strikes hit residential areas.
Pakistan hasn’t directly commented on the attack yet, but Islamabad’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday called on the Taliban-led government in Kabul to take action against “terrorists” that are carrying out cross-border attacks in Pakistan.
“Pakistan requests the sovereign Government of Afghanistan to secure Pak-Afghan Border region and take stern actions against the individuals involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan,” the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said. The ministry said seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in the North Waziristan district by “terrorists operating from Afghanistan.”
For their part, the Taliban denies that militants are attacking Pakistan from Afghan soil. Pakistan blames most of the attacks on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Pakistan’s strikes on Afghanistan came about a week after Imram Khan was ousted as prime minister. Khan has accused the US of being involved in his ousting, a claim the Biden administration has denied.
Khan had attempted to end TTP attacks through diplomacy and even signed a one-month ceasefire with the group at the end of 2021. After the month, the TTP chose not to extend the ceasefire.
Pakistan’s attacks were the deadliest airstrikes in Afghanistan since the US withdrew from the country. On August 29th, 2021, during the final days of the withdrawal, a US drone strike in Kabul killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
As the US was pulling out of Afghanistan, Pentagon leaders were scrambling to find a neighboring country that would allow the US to establish a military base in the region, but Khan’s government wouldn’t allow it. At the time, then-Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “Forget the past, but I want to tell the Pakistanis that no US base will be allowed by Prime Minister Imran Khan so long he is in power.”