Pakistan Launches Airstrikes On Suspected Taliban Hotspots

At least eight people were killed and dozens more wounded after airstrikes launched by Pakistani forces struck several locations in neighboring Afghanistan believed to be occupied by the Pakistani Taliban.

In response, the Afghan Taliban retaliated with gunfire. Tensions between Islamabad and Kabul are expected to rise even higher due to the new escalation. Two days before the attacks, terrorists in northwest Pakistan murdered seven troops in a coordinated attack and suicide bombing. Pakistani forces responded with these strikes.

Blaming the attacks for killing many women and children, the Afghan Taliban condemned them as an attack on Afghanistan’s sovereignty. Afghan soldiers targeted Pakistan’s military centers along the border with heavy weapons, according to the Kabul defense ministry, which did not provide details. The counter-attacks happened late Monday.

Two Pakistani intelligence and security officials have confirmed that the Pakistani attacks occurred in the border regions of Paktika and Khost. It was unclear how far into Afghanistan the Pakistani planes traveled, and the Pakistani military did not immediately react. While Islamabad never formally acknowledged the attacks, they were the first to target Taliban hideouts in Afghanistan.

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, said Monday that two women were murdered in a strike in Khost province and that three women and three children were slain in the district of Barmal in Paktika region. According to the two Pakistani officials, four persons were wounded in mortars fired by the Afghan Taliban. Meanwhile, peasants in the northeastern Kurram region reportedly fled to safer locations late Monday night. The officials reported that Pakistani forces retaliated.

A suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden truck into a military checkpoint in Mir Ali, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, on Saturday, killing seven Pakistani troops. The military reported that troops opened fire and killed all six assailants. In his remarks at the funerals, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari declared that the blood of martyred soldiers will not go in vain.

He also promised retaliation.