Taliban refute Pakistan’s claim of Afghan involvement in Besham attack

Spokesperson says killing of Chinese citizens under tight security cover shows weakness of Pakistani security agencies

AGENCIES May 08, 2024
Chinese workers were targeted by a suicide bomber who rammed into their vehicle on a mountainous road near one of the dam sites. PHOTO: AFP

The Taliban defence ministry on Wednesday rejected Pakistan's claim that Afghans were involved in an attack on Chinese engineers, as ties between the neighbouring nations sour amidst rising insecurity.

DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Ahmed Sharif had said at a press conference on Tuesday that a suicide bomb attack in March in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Besham, that killed five Chinese engineers, was planned in neighbouring Afghanistan, and that the bomber was an Afghan national.

He said that despite repeated demands and sharing of evidence, the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) continued to operate from Afghanistan. “Pakistan shared credible evidence, but no action was taken. The linkage of the recent terrorist incidents can be found in Afghanistan.”

"Pakistan has helped the Afghan interim government at all levels, but the promises they made in Doha do not seem to be fulfilled. The agreement clearly states that Afghanistan's territory will not be used against any country, but there is strong evidence that this is happening. In this regard, the Foreign Office recorded repeated protests with the Taliban government.”

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He said those who carried out the terrorist attack against the Chinese engineers came from Afghanistan. "The terrorists and their facilitators were being controlled from Afghanistan while the suicide bomber was also an Afghan citizen."

"Afghans are not involved in such matters," said Mufti Enayatullah Khorazmim, the spokesperson for Afghanistan's Taliban-run Ministry of National Defence, in a statement.

"Blaming Afghanistan for such incidents is a failed attempt to divert attention from the truth of the matter and we strongly reject it," he added.

"The killing of Chinese citizens in an area of ​​Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that is under tight security cover by the Pakistan Army shows the weakness of the Pakistani security agencies," Khorazmim said.

He accused Islamabad of diverting attention by blaming Kabul and said: "We strongly reject it." "The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) has assured China on this matter and the country has also understood the fact that Afghans are not involved in such issues,” he said.

A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers working on a dam project in Besham in March, killing six people.

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Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have soured in recent months. Islamabad says Kabul is not doing enough to tackle terrorist groups targeting Pakistan and in March Pakistan carried out airstrikes targeting militants on Afghan territory.

Last year, Pakistan expelled nearly 370,000 undocumented Afghan nationals, saying the majority of suicide attacks against its security forces were carried out by Afghans, a charge Kabul rejected.

The military spokesman said on Tuesday that security for 29,000 Chinese nationals in Pakistan, many of them working on infrastructure projects, was the top priority for security institutions.

The Taliban are also seeking economic ties with China, the first country to formally appoint an ambassador to Kabul under the Taliban, and wish to join China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is Beijing's $65 billion investment in development and infrastructure.



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