Dozens of Pakistani Islamic State group militants have been killed or captured in Afghanistan in the past year, Kabul’s Taliban authorities said Wednesday, days after Islamabad blamed Afghans for involvement in suicide attacks on its territory.
Tensions between the neighbors have mounted recently over an uptick in suicide attacks in Pakistan, with Islamabad claiming militants are frequently helped by Afghans.
Afghan government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on Wednesday that in the past year, 18 people “eliminated by our forces in Afghanistan” were Pakistani citizens.
“They were Daeshis (members of IS) and they were involved in various bombings and attacks,” he said, adding that dozens of others were being held in Afghan prisons.
He was expanding on a statement issued late Tuesday that said Taliban authorities should not be blamed for “the security failure of any country in the region.”
“Instead of blaming Pakistan, the government of Afghanistan has strengthened its security measures,” it said.
It was the first time the Taliban authorities have publicly blamed Pakistanis for attacks in Afghanistan.
Islamabad says militants carrying out attacks in Pakistan are operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan and being aided by Afghan citizens.
On Monday, military chief General Syed Asim Munir said the involvement of Afghan nationals “is detrimental to regional peace, stability and deviation from the Doha Peace Agreement,” referring to the accord that saw US-led forces leave Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation.
Taliban authorities have consistently pledged not to let Afghan territory be used by foreign militants to stage attacks abroad — a key element of the deal.
Last week, Afghan state media broadcast a speech by the defense minister warning security units that fighting outside Afghanistan was not religiously sanctioned “jihad” but rather war, which had been forbidden by Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.