July 12, 2008 | FDD’s Long War Journal

Taliban attempts to spark Afghan-Pakistan border incident

A cross-border incident that resulted in Pakistani and Afghan security forces casualties was launched by the Taliban with the intent to “to spark a border incident,” the International Security Assistance Force reported.

“Insurgents simultaneously fired at targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan on the evening of July 10,” ISAF reported in a press release. Afghan police in Paktika province and a Pakistani military unit along the border in South Waziristan reported taking mortar fire at the same time, the US military stated. Eight Pakistani soldiers and four Afghan police were reported wounded in the initial attack.

The US military determined the origin of mortar fire to have started at two points inside Afghanistan and returned fire with artillery and a laser-guided GBU-13 bomb dropped from an F-15. The US fires were “verified to have hit the origins of insurgent fire.”

The initial reports of the incident were confused, and focused on the attack inside Pakistan. News reports speculated that the US military launched a Predator air strike or artillery attack on a Pakistani military outpost.

The Afghan Army and police and the US military have repelled a series of attacks in the border provinces of Paktia, Paktika, and Khost over the past three weeks. The Taliban are attempting to destabilize the eastern region and overrun Afghan government centers and Coalition bases. Attacks in the east are up by more than 40 percent from last year, according to the US military. More than 200 Taliban fighters have been killed during the clashes. Many of the attacks have originated from Pakistan.

Tensions along the ill-defined, rugged border have escalated since the Pakistani government initiated its latest round of peace accords with the Taliban and allied extremists in the tribal areas and settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, and Khyber. Negotiations are under way in South Waziristan, Kohat, and Mardan. The Taliban have violated the terms of these agreements in every region where accords have been signed.