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US troops pullback has let Taliban open new bases in Afghanistan: Pak Army

Islamabad , Sat, 02 Jul 2011 ANI

Islamabad, July 2(ANI): The Pakistan Army has said that a US pullback of troops from northeast Afghanistan over 20 months has let Islamic guerrillas establish bases in the area and carry out unusually huge attacks inside Pakistan in recent weeks.


Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said that several Pakistani Taliban groups moved fighters into Nuristan and Kunar, and used those Afghan provinces five times in the past month to send hundreds of militants to attack Pakistani border posts or police stations.


"In the past we never had this kind of experience, where 200 to 300 militants attacked us," Bloomberg quoted Abbas, as saying in an interview at Pakistan's army headquarters in Rawalpindi.


"It's a big body in this mountainous terrain" and shows that the militants have established bases in northeastern Afghanistan that can house, feed and transport such groups, he pointed out.


The US government contends that Pakistan has failed to eliminate similar safe havens for guerrillas in its border districts, especially North Waziristan.


The complaints on both sides underscore the need and the difficulty for Pakistan and Afghanistan to maintain control all the way to the isolated, mountainous border between them, Abbas observed.


He said that hundreds of Taliban fighters crossed the border from Kunar on mountain ridges as high as 3,700 meters to attack police stations in Pakistan's Dir Valley on April 22 and on June 1m and about 300 fighters crossed into Pakistan's Bajaur tribal district last month and seized two border posts, killing 15 Pakistani security officers.


As the Pakistani army has undertaken offensives since 2007 to re-capture districts taken over by the Taliban, the surviving Taliban forces- including commanders Hakimullah Mehsud from South Waziristan, Faqir Muhammad from Bajaur and Abdul Wali from Mohmand- have moved to Kunar and Nuristan to regroup, he said.


"The best economy of effort is by conducting joint operations" to trap the guerrillas between US and Pakistani forces, Abbas added.


However, Afghanistan's Defence Ministry spokesman General Zaher Azimi denied that any Pakistani Taliban maintain bases anywhere in Afghanistan, saying in a telephone interview that Pakistan is "trying to blame Afghanistan."


"ISAF posts were vacated and that created a void," Abbas said. "Unless we resolve this, it will not allow the whole effort of bringing stability in the region." (ANI)


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