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Pakistan Says Cross-Afghan Border Militant Raid Kills 4 Soldiers

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FILE - A soldier stands guard along the border fence outside the Kitton outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan, Oct. 18, 2017.

Pakistan says a militant attack Wednesday from across the Afghanistan border killed at least four paramilitary soldiers and injured six others.

The military said a team of paramilitary forces was moving to install a border fence in the southwestern Zhob district in Baluchistan province when what they described as a group of “around 20 terrorists” from the Afghan side ambushed and opened fire on them.

The troops “responded promptly” and the injured personnel were evacuated to a military hospital in the provincial capital, Quetta.

The military provided no further details, and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Pakistan strongly condemns such organized attacks and considers these detrimental to ongoing peace and stability along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” said Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, the Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Chaudhri said the Afghan embassy in Islamabad has been asked to convey his government’s concerns to the relevant authorities in Afghanistan “to undertake effective measures” against terrorist groups operating on their soil and "avoid recurrence of such incidents in future.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Afghan government.

Militants have previously attacked construction teams since Pakistan began fencing the nearly 2,600 kilometer largely porous border with Afghanistan in mid-2017.

The military-led massive construction program is installing a pair of nearly 3-meter-high chicken wire fences, with a 2-meter gap between each one, and topped with barbed wire. Additionally, hundreds of new outposts and forts have been built or are under construction.

Army officials say the project is expected to be completed in the next few months, costing around $500 million. The fence runs through rugged terrain and snow-capped mountains as high as 12,000 feet.

Pakistani officials maintain the border management program will help address mutual concerns of terrorist infiltration, a major source of tensions between Islamabad and Kabul.

Islamabad alleges militants have taken refuge in volatile Afghan border areas after fleeing security operations in Pakistan and are plotting attacks from there.

The latest incident comes amid increased diplomatic efforts Pakistan is making to improve bilateral political and trade ties with Afghanistan.

“As such, it is regrettable while both sides are engaged on a diplomatic track,” said Torek Farhadi, a former Afghan government adviser and political commentator.

“It is possible Kabul doesn't have full control of some areas there, but if it does, such attacks don’t help the consensus for bilateral collaboration on peace, legal trade and transit the region needs.”

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