PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Teams of Taliban fighters crossed the Afghan border Saturday and attacked security checkpoints in a previously peaceful region of northwestern Pakistan, killing more than two dozen soldiers and police, Pakistani officials said.
Pakistan has blamed Afghan and NATO forces for not doing enough to stop such cross-border attacks, which could get worse as the U.S. withdraws troops from Afghanistan. The area where Pakistan said Saturday's attack originated has largely been abandoned by the U.S. in recent years.
Afghan officials denied the militants came from their side of the border. The Afghan government has long said the center of the Taliban insurgency is in Pakistan and has joined the U.S. in criticizing Islamabad for failing to stem the flow of militants into Afghanistan.
At least 200 militants crossed into Chitral district Saturday morning and attacked seven checkpoints run by the paramilitary Frontier Corps, two of which were overrun, the Pakistani military said.
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The scenic mountainous region has rarely experienced militant violence and is a popular destination for foreigners and locals seeking reprieve from the searing summer sun.
Fighting was still ongoing Saturday afternoon, as Pakistan sent in reinforcements to drive the militants back across the border, the military said.
The militants chanted "God is great!" and "Long live jihad!" as they fought, said Capt. Abdul Ghani, a member of the paramilitary forces.
The military blamed the attack on Pakistani Taliban fighters and their Afghan allies who have taken sanctuary in the Afghan districts of Nuristan and Kunar across the border from Chitral to escape Pakistani army offensives.
Maj. Mohammad Ayub Hassainkhail, deputy border police commander in eastern Afghanistan, denied the attack came from his side of the border.
"We have officers all along the border area and we haven't seen any movement of the insurgents across the border," said Hassainkhail.