Afghan Soldiers Flee into Pakistan 07/26 06:18
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Dozens of Afghan soldiers slipped across the border into
northwestern Pakistan, the Pakistani army said Monday. The Afghan troops were
fleeing after their border post was overrun, apparently by the Taliban.
The statement said a total of 46 members of the Afghan forces, including
five officers, crossed the border late Sunday near the Pakistani border town of
Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The Afghan "soldiers have been provided food, shelter and necessary medical
care as per established military norms," the Pakistani army said, adding that
it had informed Afghan authorities of the development.
There was no immediate response from Kabul and no information about the
fighting on the Afghan side of the border.
The Taliban have swiftly captured territory in recent weeks in Afghanistan,
and seized strategic border crossings with several neighboring countries. They
are also threatening a number of provincial capitals -- advances that come as
the last U.S. and NATO soldiers complete their final withdrawal from
The insurgents are said to now control about half of Afghanistan's 419
district centers. The rapid fall of districts and the seemingly disheartened
response by Afghan government forces have prompted U.S.-allied warlords to
resurrect militias with a violent history.
For many Afghans weary of more than four decades of wars and conflict, fears
are rising of another brutal civil war as American and NATO troops leave the
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan -- long fraught with suspicion
and deep mistrust -- deteriorated further when the Taliban overran the Afghan
border town of Spin Boldak earlier this month. Taliban fighters at the time
were seen receiving medical treatment in a Pakistani hospital in the town of
Chaman, across the border from Spin Boldak.
Kabul accused Islamabad of providing sanctuary to the Taliban as Afghan
forces battle to retake Spin Boldak. The U.S. last week carried out airstrikes
in support of Afghan troops in the southern city of Kandahar, about 100
kilometers (60 miles) west of Spin Boldak.
Also this month, Kabul recalled its ambassador and other diplomats from
Islamabad after the 26-year-old daughter of Afghanistan's ambassador was
brutally attacked in the Pakistani capital. Pakistan still hosts about 2
million Afghans as refugees from decades of war in their homeland.
The Taliban surge gained speed after President Joe Biden announced in
mid-April that the last American and NATO troops would soon leave Afghanistan.
The 2,500-3,500 American soldiers and 7,000 NATO allies have mostly left the
country at this point, with the few remaining soldiers to be gone by Aug. 31.
Pakistan has dismissed allegations of aiding the Taliban, and points out
that it succeeded in pressuring the insurgents into peace talks last year. For
its part, Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of harboring the Pakistani Taliban, a
militant group separate from the Afghan Taliban that has stepped up attacks on
the Pakistani military.