At least five children and a woman have been killed in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar when Pakistani military forces fired rockets along the border in a pre-dawn assault, an official and a resident said.

“Five children and a woman were killed and a man wounded in Pakistani rocket attacks in Shelton district of Kunar,” provincial director of information Najibullah Hassan Abdaal told AFP.

Ehsanullah, a resident of Shelton district who goes by one name as many Afghans do, said the assault was carried out by Pakistani military aircraft. He confirmed the death toll.

According to another Afghan government official, a similar pre-dawn assault was carried out in Afghanistan’s Khost province near the border.

“Pakistani helicopters bombarded four villages near the Durand line in Khost province,” he said on condition of anonymity.

“Only civilian houses were targeted and there were casualties,” he added, but did not offer more details.

The Afghan foreign ministry said it had summoned the Pakistani ambassador in Kabul to protest the attacks.

“Such military violations including in Khost and Kunar should be prevented as ill-wishers and groups with vested interests will exploit these incidents,” Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told the Pakistani envoy on Saturday, according to a ministry statement.

Pakistani military officials were not immediately available for comment, and Taliban government spokesmen in Kabul declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Border tensions

Since the Taliban seized power last year in Afghanistan, border tensions between the neighbours have risen, with Pakistan alleging armed groups were carrying out attacks from Afghan soil.

The Taliban deny harbouring Pakistani armed fighters, but are also infuriated by a fence Islamabad is erecting along their 2,700km (1,600-mile) border known as the Durand line, which was drawn up in colonial times.

On Thursday, at least seven Pakistani soldiers have been killed in an ambush by an armed group near the Afghan border.

According to a military statement released the following day, a Pakistani military convoy in a former stronghold of the Pakistan Taliban, known by the acronym TTP, near the Afghan border was ambushed, triggering an intense shoot-out in which seven soldiers and four members of the armed group were killed.

The statement said the ambush took place in the Isham area of North Waziristan, a district in the volatile northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“Pakistan Army is determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve,” the statement added.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The incident comes as Pakistan’s military said on Thursday that 128 armed fighters have been killed in the region bordering Afghanistan since January.

The military acknowledged that nearly 100 soldiers have been killed in such attacks during the same period.

Paying tributes to the killed soldiers, Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Islamabad would “continue fighting terrorism”.

North Waziristan – once dubbed the “heartland of militancy” – is one of the seven former semi-autonomous tribal regions in Pakistan where the army has conducted a series of operations since 2014 to eliminate the Pakistan Taliban.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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