Pakistani Taliban Claim Cross-Border Attack

Posted June 3rd, 2011 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
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The Pakistani Taliban says its forces in Afghanistan are responsible for a deadly raid in Pakistan.

A Taliban spokesman made the claim Friday during a phone call with reporters. He said about 40 to 50 insurgents were involved in the cross-border attack on a security checkpoint near Pakistan's northwestern Dir tribal area. The government says up to 400 militants had swarmed the area.

The claim of responsibility comes one day after Pakistan demanded Afghanistan, and NATO forces there, crack down on insurgents on the Afghan side of the border.

Fierce fighting between Afghan-based militants and Pakistani forces began Wednesday and is blamed for the deaths of at least 65 people.

Officials say the clashes killed at least 27 security personnel, three civilians and some 35 militants, but the information could not be verified independently because the region is largely off-limits to journalists.

On Friday, Pakistani officials said the military used artillery and helicopter gunships to force back a second wave of insurgents who crossed over from Afghanistan.

The officials said Friday's counterattack had the militants on the run. They did not give any information on possible casualties.

Taliban and al-Qaida linked militants have strongholds on both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistani border.

The fighting comes as a top Pakistani army commander said the military has no plans to launch an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik refuted media reports earlier this week that said the military was planning such an operation at the request of the United States. He said Pakistan will undertake that type of offensive when it is in the country's national interest.

Militants have launched a number of attacks against Pakistani security forces following the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.