Afghan forces continue firing on Pakistani side

Tension mounted at the Torkham border on Tuesday as Afghan forces again opened fire on Pakistani security personnel and a major of the Pakistan Army, seriously injured in the earlier unprovoked firing from across the border, succumbed to his injuries at the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar.

Sources said the Afghan National Army and border police targeted the Pakistani border checkpoints and administration offices with heavy guns and fired mortars at 9:00 pm, which caused damage to the buildings.

Several mortar shells fired from the Afghan side of the Torkham border hit Pakistani security pickets. As a result, two security personnel of the Frontier Corps sustained injuries.Both Pakistan and Afghanistan lodged strong protests against each other on the tense situation on the Torkham border.

A Pakistani official told this scribe by phone that one of the mortar shells fired by the Afghan security forces hit the official compound near the Torkham border.He said three official and were also damaged in the attack. He said several mortars fired from the Afghan side of the Torkham border also landed in the border village of Bacha Maina. However, no casualty was reported as the villagers had already been evacuated from Bacha Maina.

The Afghan forces also targeted the Pakistan’s Customs House offices with mortar shells but no human casualty was reported as the offices had been closed down after Afghan forces fired at the installations three days ago.

Several other private vehicles parked in the compound were also damaged in the unprovoked firing by the Afghan border security forces in the last two days. The Pakistan Army also moved tanks from Peshawar and deployed them at various points near the Torkham border, official sources said. They added that Pakistan Army soldiers had taken control of the Torkham border.

The overall situation at Torkham border and in Landikotal remained tense. The Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps personnel could be seen patrolling in Torkham town. Tension flared up between Kabul and Islamabad when Afghan forces targeted Pakistani installations to prevent its border officials from installing a gate at the Torkham border crossing.

The gate had been removed for the construction of Torkham-Jalalabad road. Meanwhile, curfew remained enforced on the second day at the Torkham border bazaar and its surrounding areas, including Landikotal. The authorities relaxed curfew in Landikotal bazaar to allow the local people to buy food.

Meanwhile, in their separate condolence messages President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have expressed sympathies with the bereaved family of Major Ali Jawad Shaheed.

A statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that three Pakistani security forces officials identified as Colonel Aamir, Major Ali Jawad Changezi and Sepoy Iftikhar had been injured in the firing and mortar attack by the Afghan security forces Monday night. It said they were taken to the Combined Military Hospital Peshawar where Major Ali Jawad Changezi breathed his last. The funeral for the officer was offered in Peshawar, which was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Corps Commander Peshawar Lt-General Hidayatur Rehman and others.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday said that the remaining pockets and sleeper cells of terrorists were being targeted in the final stage of the military operation Zarb-e-Azb.

He said this during a visit to the North and South Waziristan agencies. The COAS visited the forward positions of the security forces in the two tribal regions and spent the day with the tribesmen and troops.

A press release of the Inter-Public Services relations (ISPR) said the COAS was briefed about the ongoing operations and rehabilitation work and its effects on the social landscape of area. Acknowledging the achievements, courage, determination and sacrifices of the troops in achieving the operational targets/gains, the COAS said that the military operation Zarb-e-Azb was yielding the desired results and the network of the terrorist had been dismantled in the operation.

General Raheel Sharif said that operation Zarb-e-Azb was in its final stage, adding the last pockets and sleeper cells of terrorists were being targeted in the final phase of the offensive. “Pakistan Army with the support of the nation has achieved unparalleled successes in the fight against terrorism,” said the COAS.

The COAS also inaugurated various projects as part of the post operation comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). He inaugurated the newly constructed 72-kilometer long portion of the Miranshah-Razmak-Makeen dual carriage Road. The construction of the road is the part of the 705-kilometer Central Trade Corridor project.

The newly constructed road is developed by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) will considerably reduce distance and travelling time between North and South Waziristan. Later, The COAS commissioned a state-of-the-art 100-bed Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Hospital at Sholam, in South Waziristan. “These projects would improve the quality of life in the tribal areas, usher in a new era of economic prosperity and address the problem of militancy on a permanent basis,” COAS emphasised.

The Pakistan Army has undertaken 567 projects in the social sector including communication, infrastructure and power sector in Waziristan. General Raheel Sharif appreciated the support of the tribes’ people in combating terrorism and acknowledged their sacrifices.

He assured them that terrorists would not be allowed to return and re-organise and the army would not go back till the job was done. He said the return of the TDPs and their resettlement works is continued and would be completed by the end of 2016. “We will now focus on efficient border management to prevent cross border moment and check the moment of militants,” he added.

June 15, 2016

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