At least 5 Afghan militants reported killed in cross-border attack

Story highlights

  • Sunday's attack is the latest in a series of cross-border attacks
  • Afghan militants attacked a checkpoint in Pakistan, Pakistani military spokesman says
  • "We killed five to seven of them," says Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas
  • Fatalities include a Pakistani soldier, Abbas says
At least five Afghan militants and one Pakistani soldier were killed Sunday night when scores of militants crossed into Pakistan and attacked a military checkpoint, a Pakistani military spokesman said Monday.
"Sixty to 70 militants from Afghanistan crossed over," Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, director general of Inter Services Public Relations, told CNN. "We killed five to seven of them and one Pakistani soldier lost his life and three soldiers were injured."
Abbas blamed the Afghan military for failing to curb the insurgency.
"We have informed them that this congregation is happening on their side, but apparently no action (is) being taken against the sanctuary that is provided to militants across the border in Afghanistan," he said. "We are suffering now and have been suffering."
He said more than 100 Pakistanis have been killed in cross-border attacks in the past few months "and countless thousands over the years."
Sunday's attack is the latest in a series of recent cross-border attacks from Afghanistan's Pech Valley and the provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, areas from which U.S. troops began withdrawing this year as part of a strategy intended to bolster security in more populated areas in Afghanistan.
Pakistani military officials say the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region has provided insurgents in the mountainous areas of eastern Afghanistan with safe havens from which to launch cross-border attacks against Pakistani security forces.
The attacks threaten to escalate tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, two countries that have repeatedly accused one another of not doing enough to secure the border region.
Last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the killer of a key Kabul peace negotiator was Pakistani and the plot was hatched in Pakistan. Afghan leaders have accused Pakistani intelligence of being involved in the killing and fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Pakistani leaders have rejected those claims, saying they have sacrificed more than any other country in the fight against militants.
In a separate development, a senior Taliban leader told CNN Monday that the Pakistani Taliban are open to peace talks with the Pakistani government.
"We welcome peace talks if the Pakistani government asks for them," Maulvi Waliur Rehman, the deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban, said in a telephone interview.
Rehman said the Pakistani Taliban would be willing to hold talks without conditions and would welcome the participation of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries.
"We will participate only if the talks are solid and objective," Rehman said.
Pakistani security forces have been at war with the Pakistani Taliban since 2007, when the organization was established by the unification of various militant groups based in Pakistan's tribal region.
The Pakistani government has attempted peace deals in 2005 with the militant groups and 2008 with the Pakistani Taliban, but fighting resumed within months of the pacts and both agreements fell apart.
The Pakistani Taliban's offer follows a resolution passed last month by Pakistan's political leaders that called for dialogue with militant groups in the tribal region.
Although they're not directly linked to the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban view Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar as their spiritual guide and share some of the same objectives as their counterparts, including the establishment of sharia law in the region and the ouster of U.S. and other international forces from Afghanistan.