Taliban accuses Pakistan of allowing US drones in Afghan airspace

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Acting Minister of Defence Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob says American drones have been entering Afghanistan via Pakistan.

The Taliban’s acting defence minister has said Pakistan allowed American drones to use its airspace to access Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan has recently denied following a US air strike in Kabul.

Acting Minister of Defence Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob told reporters at a news conference in Kabul on Sunday that American drones have been entering Afghanistan via Pakistan.

“According to our information the drones are entering through Pakistan to Afghanistan, they use Pakistan’s airspace, we ask Pakistan, don’t use your airspace against us,” he said.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry has rejected the allegations made by the Afghan Acting Defence Minister, calling them “conjectural allegations” and added that the Taliban statement was “highly regrettable”.

“In the absence of any evidence, as acknowledged by the Afghan minister himself, such conjectural allegations are highly regrettable and defy the norms of responsible diplomatic conduct,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“Pakistan reaffirms its belief in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

Pakistani authorities have denied involvement in or advanced knowledge of a drone strike the United States said it carried out in Kabul in July that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Intelligence had located al-Zawahiri’s family in Kabul earlier this year. An Egyptian surgeon with a $25m reward on his head, al-Zawahiri helped coordinate the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Earlier, US officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told reporters that the CIA carried out a drone attack in Kabul using two missiles.

Yaqoob’s comments could exacerbate tension between the neighbouring nations at a time when the Taliban is mediating talks between the Pakistan government and the Pakistan Taliban, known by the acronym TTP.

Afghanistan also relies heavily on trade with Pakistan as the country experiences an economic crisis.

The Taliban said it is investigating the July air strike and that it has not found the al-Qaeda leader’s body.

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