Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai accuses Pakistan of firing 470 rockets into two of its eastern border provinces in a three-week barrage.
Afghan security forces said Sunday that 36 people have died in the barrages, which hit civilians in areas where NATO forces have withdrawn. After the civilians fled, Pakistani Taliban came in and occupied the cleared areas, Afghan border officials said.
Afghan security officials say joint NATO and Afghan border units have fired back into Pakistan. NATO and Pakistan military officials, however, have denied any knowledge of border skirmishes.
Wary of being blamed for civilian casualties, the Taliban denied it was behind the bombing in Azra district in Logar province. Violence has been on the rise since the Islamic movement launched its spring offensive and promised retaliation for the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"This attack was not done by our fighters," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a telephone interview.
Nayebkhail said an Afghan army helicopter was dispatched to the area to deliver medical supplies and to ferry survivors to other hospitals. He said the clinic had recently been expanded to meet the health needs of the far-flung district`s population in the mountainous area.
The Taliban claims it does not target civilians, but the movement is fractured and Saturday`s attacks shared characteristics of recent violence.
Saturday`s attack was the deadliest since February, when three men shot to death 38 people at a Kabul Bank branch in Jalalabad. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the victims deserved their fates because some worked for the Western-backed Afghan government, which they perceive as illegitimate.
The Taliban also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in February in the northern province of Kunduz which killed 31 people as they waited for government identification cards.
A recent UN report found that May was the deadliest month for civilians since it began keeping track in 2007, and it said insurgents were to blame for 82 percent of the 368 deaths recorded.
Late Friday, another blast — this one caused by a bicycle rigged with explosives — ripped through a bazaar in the Khanabad district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people, including a police officer, and wounding 24, according to an Interior Ministry statement.
The bombings raised concerns about the readiness of Afghans to take over their own security as the U.S. and other NATO nations begin to withdraw forces. President Barack Obama`s announced Wednesday that he plans to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. NATO officials insist the Afghan government will be prepared for full sovereignty by 2014.
On Sunday, NATO said that insurgents had killed two service members in southern Afghanistan and two more in western Afghanistan. At least 52 NATO deaths have taken place in June and more than 200 this year.