Pakistani rocket fire kills 45 Afghans, say Taliban

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At least 45 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in airstrikes and artillery shelling by Pakistani forces along its border with Afghanistan, local Taliban officials said Saturday.

The attacks were carried out overnight in Afghanistan’s eastern Khost and Kunar provinces in the border areas between the two neighboring countries.

In Khost province, at least 40 civilians were killed and 20 wounded after jets bombarded four villages in Seperah district overnight, said a Taliban official who did not wish to be named.

The victims are civilians from three families who immigrated from the neighboring Pakistani region of Waziristan following a military operation there several years ago, the official added. Twenty-nine were from one family, he said.

In Kunar, Pakistani forces have been shelling the area using heavy artillery for the past three days on Marwara, Shelton and Nari districts, the acting provincial head of the Taliban’s information and culture department Najibullah Hanif told Deutsche Press-Agentur (dpa).

Five civilians, including children, were killed and one wounded in the Friday night attacks, he said.

Islamabad did not confirm whether it had carried out the attacks.

On Friday, seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in an ambush in the country’s North Waziristan tribal region. Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warned that there would be retaliation.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant group closely affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, operates in border areas between the two countries. The group has increased its attacks since the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan in August last year.

The Foreign Ministry in Kabul summoned the Pakistani ambassador to protest against the overnight strikes.

In a statement, the ministry warned Pakistan that such acts would damage relations between the two neighboring countries.

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