ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghanistan’s intelligence chief and interior minister made a surprise visit to Pakistan’s capital on Wednesday following a recent spate of deadly attacks in Afghanistan.
The visit by Masoom Stanikzai and Wais Ahmed Barmak comes amid charges leveled by Afghanistan that some of the attacks were carried out by perpetrators linked to Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the ISI.
The attacks, which have killed nearly 200 people and wounded hundreds more, have been alternately claimed by the Taliban and the Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan. Most of the attacks in the capital Kabul have been blamed on the Haqqani network, whose links to Pakistan’s intelligence agency dates back to the 1980s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when Pakistan and the United States were on the same page about using jihadi groups to oust invading Russian soldiers.
Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mahmoud Saikal tweeted Monday that the father of one of the insurgents involved in the bloody Jan. 20 assault on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel “conceded his son was trained in Chaman of Balochistan Province of Pakistan by the InterServices Intelligence of Pakistan.”
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Chaman is a Pakistani border town located opposite Afghanistan’s Spin Boldak in southern Kandahar province. Kandahar was the spiritual heartland of the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan until their ouster by the U.S.-led coalition in 2001.
Saikal’s tweet said the attacker’s father, Abdul Qahar, was in the custody of the Afghan authorities.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry and Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal, confirmed the officials’ visit but there were no immediate details.
The audacious hotel attack involved several insurgents who went floor to floor and room to room killing occupants, some of whom died when they jumped from their balconies to escape assailants who tossed grenades and opened fire with assault rifles. Twenty-two people died in the attack, 14 of whom were foreigners, most of them employed with the private Kam Air airline.
Pakistan denies it aids insurgents.
The only details about Wednesday’s meeting came in a tweet from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal, who said that Afghanistan requested the meeting to deliver “a message from Afghan president and for discussions about cooperation between the two countries.”
The visit by Stanikzai and Barmak comes a day after Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said it handed over 27 insurgents to Afghan authorities last year, including members of the Haqqani network.
Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report