KHYBER AGENCY/ISLAMABAD - The situation remained tense at Torkham border following new clashes between security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan after a short-lived ceasefire on Monday.

Overnight skirmishes killed at least one person wounded 18 others, forcing around 200 Pakistani families to relocate to safer areas.

At least seven security personnel, including one Frontier Corps (FC) trooper and three Khasadars, and 10 civilians sustained injuries in the clashes over installation of a gate by Pakistani officials.

Both the forces used heavy artillery, targeting each other’s positions. The wounded were shifted to Landi Kotal military and civil hospitals. Those in critical condition were referred to Peshawar. The hospital sources confirmed 10 civilians were injured in the border firing.

A ceasefire was agreed early on Monday but Afghan forces resorted to firing 20 minutes before Iftari which led to retaliation by the Pakistanis.

Local sources said Pak Army repulsed the attack of Afghan forces. Lt-Col Amir, Major Junaid and Iftikhar, a soldier, were injured in the clashes.

Afghan media, quoting Afghan forces, said their one soldier was killed and five others were wounded in cross-border firing. Extra troops equipped with heavy weapons were deployed on the border to tackle the situation, the sources said.

Curfew was imposed in Torkham and Landi Kotal bazaar and people were asked to stay at home while all kind of movement was restricted.

Due to the tension, the residential area of Bacha Mena near the border was evacuated; dozens of families fled and took refuge in Landi Kotal, locals revealed. Zawar Amir, a resident of bordering area, said scores of mortar and artillery shells landed near their houses in Bacha Mena, forcing them to rush to Landi Kotal along with their families.

Parking lots, located in Torkham, were vacated and Afghanistan-bound loaded trailers were sent back to Peshawar, a truck driver, Abdullah, disclosed.

It is worth mentioning that Afghanistan has never accepted Torkham as a formal border. The Afghans are of the view that Afghanistan and the British India had been partitioned by an agreement signed by Amir Abdur Rehman and the British representative, Durand, in 1893.They say the pact expired in 1993, so Torkham is no more a border.

According to ISPR, the Afghan security forces targeted the under-construction gate at Torkham, which is 37 metres inside the Pakistan territory. ISPR said the gate was considered essential to check and verify documentation of all border crossers with special regard to stop terrorists’ movement.

"Pakistan wanted to build new installations and Afghan border forces didn't allow it. Pakistan went further and fired towards Afghan forces,” Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told a meeting of ministers in Kabul.

Abdullah insists bilateral understandings bind the two countries to seek mutual consent before constructing new installations near the border.

Pakistan also Monday summoned the Afghan Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad to convey its “strong protest” over what it called the unprovoked firing by the Afghan forces.

“The Afghan Charge d’ Affaires was told that the firing incident was contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Afghan side was urged to thoroughly investigate the incident and share the findings with Pakistani authorities.

It was further emphasized that all steps should be taken for avoiding recurrence of such incidents in the future, the ministry added.

“It was conveyed to the Afghan side that the regulation of movements at Torkham is part of government’s policy to strengthen border management, and Afghan government’s cooperation was needed as it would enhance mutual security and help to combat the threat of terrorism,” the statement said.

Afghanistan also summoned the Pakistani ambassador in Kabul to protest the firing incident.