ISLAMABAD - Pakistan says cross-border fire from Afghanistan Sunday killed two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers and wounded five others.
A military spokesman said its personnel were conducting routine "surveillance" in the remote Kurram region “to plug gaps and make necessary preparations to start fencing” the border when they came under attack from the other side.
Army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor said an “engagement” between military officials of the two countries “is underway to defuse [the] situation.”
Pakistani troops, he added, are “exercising maximum restraint” to avoid any Afghan civilian casualties on the other side of the border.
Earlier, a regional Afghan police chief told VOA the clashes broke out along the Zazi Maidan border district in southeastern province of Khost adjacent to Kurram.
General Abdul Hanan Zadran claimed two Pakistani border forces were killed and several others were wounded. He confirmed one Afghan civilian fatality on his side but local media reported the death of at least two Afghan border forces while several others were wounded.
Pakistani army spokesman Ghafoor told VOA it was not clear whether Afghan military or border police forces initiated the cross-border fire "because there is no Afghan border post in the near vicinity.”
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a nearly 2,600-kilometer largely porous border. The Pakistani military has recently started constructing a robust fence on the border in its bid to prevent illegal crossings in either direction.
Afghan authorities oppose Pakistani plans of fencing the frontier because Kabul disputes the former British era demarcation.
The Afghan government earlier this month accused Pakistan of conducting airstrikes and firing hundreds of shells in their eastern border province of Kunar, charges Islamabad rejected.
Pakistani officials maintain that fugitive militants hiding in “ungoverned” Afghan border areas plot terrorist attacks against the country and military forces are conducting operations inside their own territory to deter such attacks.
Islamabad maintains fencing of the border will help address mutual concerns of illegal terrorist infiltration.
Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of sheltering and helping Taliban insurgents, charges Pakistani officials deny.