Afghan militant shell kills 7 from same family in Pakistan

RIZ KHAN

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — At least seven members of the same Pakistani family were killed Sunday when their home was hit by a mortar round fired from across the border in Afghanistan by suspected militants, Pakistani police said.

Four children, two women and a man were killed in Bajur district, once a Taliban stronghold inside Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to local police official, Shahab-ud- Din. He said other civilians were also wounded.

Police and local officials provided no further details on the shelling. Police gave the name of the owner of the home that was struck, but did not say if he was among the casualties or if he was present at the time of the attack. Authorities said an investigation was underway.

Pakistan’s militant groups are often interlinked with those across the border in Afghanistan, and Bajur district was once a haven for Taliban insurgents. Pakistan says the army has cleared the area in recent years, although violence persists. Militants who were not killed have mostly fled across the rugged mountains into neighboring Afghanistan.

Terror attacks in Pakistan plummeted by more than 85% over the last decade, from nearly 2,000 in 2009 to fewer than 250 in 2019, according to a tally put together by Pakistani think tanks. The steady decline underscores the long-haul nature of fighting terror.

Pakistan’s success in tackling terror is essential amid American attempts to wind down the war in Afghanistan and withdraw U.S. troops.