By Ayaz Gul
Pakistan said Thursday that a military counterterrorism raid in a remote region near Afghanistan’s border had killed at least 11 militants linked to a banned militant organization.
The “intelligence-based operation” in the South Waziristan district “successfully foiled a high-profile terrorist activity,” a military statement said.
Security sources said the slain men, including suicide bombers and a key commander, were members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or the Pakistani Taliban, waging terrorism in Pakistan, mostly targeting security forces and civilians.
The TTP has killed hundreds of people, including security forces, in the last year. More than 40 Pakistani security forces were killed in December alone, which turned out to be the deadliest month in a decade of terrorist violence in the country.
The TTP, designated as a global terrorist organization by the United States, is a Pakistani offshoot and close ally of Afghanistan’s ruling Islamist Taliban.
Pakistan has maintained that fugitive TTP leaders and commanders are directing terrorist attacks from the Afghan side of the border, saying the Taliban rulers are not stopping them in line with their counterterrorism pledges.
The rising violence in Pakistan has strained its otherwise better ties with the Taliban administration in Kabul.
On Thursday, foreign ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, while addressing a regular news conference, rejected speculation that her country was contemplating cross-border airstrikes against TTP Afghan hideouts.
“I would like to say that Pakistan is a responsible member of the United Nations, and as a responsible member of the United Nations, it subscribes to and will always uphold the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter, which include territorial integrity and political independence of states,” Baloch said.
She reiterated that Islamabad would continue to support Afghans “in their quest for a unified, independent and sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors.”
Early this week, the Taliban defense ministry warned Islamabad against indulging in any cross-border action, rejecting allegations that Kabul was allowing anyone to use Afghan soil against Pakistan or any other country. (SJ/VOA)