PARACHINAR - A cross-border gunfight between Pakistani and Afghan security forces on Sunday left at least two people dead, officials from both countries said, amid simmering tensions between the neighbours.

Two Pakistani security personnel were martyred and nine others injured in the clashes.

Local sources said that the attack was carried out from Khost province on a border post in the Laka Tigga area of Lower Kurram Agency. After the incident, a large number of armed tribesmen from Bangash and other tribes assembled to support the security forces and pushed back the attackers.

Tribal elders reportedly made announcements at several mosques, appealing the tribesmen to join the security forces on the border. Following the announcement, several armed tribesmen belonging to Toori, Bangash and other tribes reached the border area and started patrolling the area.

According to foreign news agencies, the casualties were the result of ongoing clashes along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Both sides accused each other of opening fire on their troops along the disputed 2,430-kilometre long border region known as the Durand Line.

Pakistani military’s media wing ISPR said that Pakistani border troops had come under fire in Kurram Agency. The ISPR accused Afghanistan of opening fire when Pakistani troops were carrying out routine surveillance along the Pak-Afghan border and making necessary preparations for starting fencing of that area.

“Pakistani troops are exercising maximum restraint so as to avoid any Afghan civilian casualties. Mil [military] engagement is underway to defuse situation,” the ISPR said in a statement.

Earlier, an Afghan official said two Pakistani border guards were arrested and an Afghan civilian was killed during the clashes along Afghanistan’s Khost province, which lies next to the tribal belt in Pakistan.

Col Abdul Hanan Zadran, interim chief of the Afghan National Police, told reporters clashes broke out in the morning when Pakistani border forces allegedly opened fire at villages in Zazi Maiden district along the Durand Line. He added that local villagers and the Afghan Border Police retaliated with gunfire. Clashes are still underway, Col Hanan said.

According to Azadi Radio, Pakistani forces are shelling Afghan border posts in Zazi Maiden. It added that hundreds of mortars had been fired by Pakistani forces on another Afghan province of Kunar since early April.

The bodies of the two Pakistanis were found on the Afghan side of the border near Pakistan’s tribal belt, Zadran told AFP. Three civilians were also wounded, he added.

Khost provincial governor spokesman Talib Mangal confirmed the incident, but said two Afghan civilians and four Pakistani troops were killed. Two Pakistani security forces were also detained on Afghan soil, he added.

Afghan officials often give conflicting casualty figures.

The Pakistani military said two members of its paramilitary Frontier Corps were “carrying out routine surveillance” along the border when they were “fired upon from Afghanistan”.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan accused Pakistan of carrying out air strikes in its Kunar province, causing “massive property damage” - charges Islamabad vehemently denied.

Kabul has long-accused Islamabad of providing safe havens for the Afghan Taliban, which has been waging an insurgency in Afghanistan for more than 16 years.

Islamabad rejects the accusation, countering that militants targeting Pakistani forces and civilians reside on the Afghan side of the border.

 

 

Two Pak soldiers martyred in Afghan border clash