ISLAMABAD - Border clashes have resumed between security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan after a short-lived ceasefire on Monday, officials said.
Overnight skirmishes killed at least one person wounded 18 others, according to officials, forcing around 200 Pakistani families to relocate to safer areas.
"Pakistan wanted to build new installations and Afghan border forces didn't allow it. Pakistan went further and fired towards Afghan forces,” Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told a meeting of ministers in Kabul.
He confirmed the exchange of fire, which lasted seven hours, left one Afghan soldier dead and six others wounded. The Pakistani side also suffered casualties at the Torkham crossing clash.
Abdullah insists bilateral understandings bind the two countries to seek mutual consent before constructing new installations near the border.
“The Afghan security and defense forces retaliated to safeguard the territorial integrity and defend the country and its people ... armed forces are always ready to defend their country and people and to react against any kind of threats,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement.
But officials in Pakistan rejected Afghan assertions the construction activity was illegal and blamed Afghan security forces for resorting to “unprovoked firing” that wounded 12 people, including a Pakistani border guard.
Pakistani security forces responded to Afghan firing effectively, according to the military’s media wing. It noted Torkham is the most frequented crossing point between the two countries and terrorists have also been found using this gate for entry.
“In order to check movement of terrorists through Torkham, Pakistan is constructing a gate on its own side of the border as a necessity to check unwanted and illegal movement,” the statement noted.
Porous, disputed border
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a more than 2,500-kilometer porous frontier, but Kabul disputes the border and has opposed repeated fencing attempts by Islamabad.
Both sides say militants use the border to conduct anti-state acts in their respective countries.
“We consider these unprovoked attacks unhelpful in Pakistan-Afghan relations and expect from the Afghan government to investigate this incident immediately,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office in a separate statement, expressing Pakistan’s “deep concerns” over the incident.
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 it said wounded two soldiers and nine civilians, including women and children.
“It was further emphasized that all steps should be taken for avoiding recurrence of such incidents in the future,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Afghanistan also summoned the Pakistani ambassador in Kabul to protest the firing incident.