| ||Cross-border attack imperils Pakistani-Afghan peace efforts|
By Muhammad Tahir
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ISLAMABAD - A cross-border attack on Sunday by Afghan militants that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers has escalated the tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan and could imperil the much-needed peace and reconciliation efforts by the neighboring countries.
Pakistan's civilian and military officials said that the militants used Afghan territory for the deadly Sunday attack on its check post in Dir district in the country's northwest region.
The Sunday's cross-border attack happened at a time when the two countries are exerting efforts to find a political solution to the Afghan crisis ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Pakistan-Afghanistan joint peace and reconciliation efforts were deadlocked after the September's assassination of Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Pakistan insists that several key leaders of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have crossed into Afghanistan following major military operations over the past three years and now they are using remote Afghan border regions for attacks on Pakistani border checkpoints and villages.
The Afghan deputy ambassador here was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Monday and a formal protest was lodged over the recent Taliban incursion, officials said. The envoy was asked to convey to Afghan authorities that they must take urgent steps to prevent such attacks in future.
Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Daudzai, told Xinhua on Tuesday that Islamabad's "concerns and demands" have been communicated to Kabul.
He said that both countries should not fall prey to the conspiracies of the Taliban, their common enemy.
A spokesman for the TTP, who goes by a single name Sirajuddin and who is believed to be in Afghanistan, confirmed to the media in Pakistan via phone that Taliban fighters indeed ambushed a convoy of Pakistani soldiers, killing six and beheading seven more after they were kidnapped and taken to Afghanistan.
A Pakistani military official also confirmed the beheading of the soldiers in a statement.
Pakistan insists that several top Pakistani Taliban leaders, including the former chief of Taliban in Swat valley, Maulvi Fazalullah, the TTP deputy chief, Maulvi Faqir of Bajaur tribal region and Abdul Wali, TTP leader in Mohmand tribal agency have established bases in Afghanistan's Kunar and Nuristan provinces and launch attacks on Pakistani border posts from there.
But the Afghan government has denied Islamabad's claim and asks Pakistan to support their claims with pieces of evidence.
Also on Friday, two Pakistani security men were killed and two others were injured when a mortar shell hit a border post in Mohmand Agency, official sources said.
The sources said a rocket was fired by militants from across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
There had been series of cross-border attacks in the past and Pakistani Taliban in a major attack in August last year had killed 25 security men in northern Chitral district.
Editor: Lu Hui