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Afghans Protest Cross-Border Shelling from Pakistan


An Afghan man holds Afghanistan's flag during an anti-Pakistan protest in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 11, 2011.

An Afghan man holds Afghanistan's flag during an anti-Pakistan protest in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 11, 2011.

Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets Monday to protest cross-border shelling from Pakistan that has killed dozens of people in recent weeks.

Demonstrations were held in the eastern province of Kunar and the southern province of Helmand, both bordering Pakistan.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained by weeks of mortar shelling that Kabul says has killed at least 42 civilians and wounded scores more. Afghan officials say more than 800 rockets have crossed the border since early June.

Pakistan's military denies the allegations.

It says security forces may have fired a few accidental rounds into Afghanistan while pursuing militants. Instead, Pakistan's military says insurgents from Afghanistan have crossed the border and killed at least 55 soldiers in the past month.

Separately, more than two dozen mine clearance workers kidnapped in southwest Afghanistan last week were released Monday. Afghan officials said at least four of the de-miners were killed. The group was ambushed and kidnapped while driving to a work site in Farah province.

Also Monday, U.S. Army Lieutenant General David Rodriguez handed over command of the coalition forces in Afghanistan to U.S. Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti. Rodriguez was the second most senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and in charge of day-to-day operations for the 150,000-strong NATO-led force.

Elsewhere, France's Defense Ministry says a French soldier in Afghanistan has died after he was accidentally shot by another French soldier. An investigation has been opened to establish the circumstances of the shooting.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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