Islamabad: Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire at their rugged border on 13 May in their most serious skirmish in years. Pakistan claimed it killed five Afghan soldiers, but Afghanistan said just two Afghan civilians died.
Tension has been running high between Afghanistan and Pakistan over controlling the 2,430-kilometer border and stemming the flow of Taliban and al-Qaida militants that stage cross-border attacks inside Afghanistan. Pakistan’s move to fence parts of the disputed frontier has also angered Afghanistan.
Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad accused the Afghan army of sparking the two-hour gunbattle with “unprovoked” fire at about six Pakistani border posts in Kurram Agency, a Pakistani tribal region opposite Afghanistan’s Paktia province.
A Pakistan military statement said troops from its Frontier Corps returned fire and five Afghan National Army soldiers were killed. Arshad initially put the toll at six or seven and said three Pakistani troops were wounded.
“This was unprovoked and without any reason,” Arshad said.
On the Afghan side, Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi accused Pakistani forces of encroaching 2-3 kilometers inside Paktia province’s Jajai district.
“Border police tried to stop them, and the Pakistani army started firing heavy weapons toward the Afghan forces,” he told a news conference.
Two school students were killed, and three students and two policemen were wounded, he said. Earlier, the chief of Afghan border police, Gen. Abdul Rahman, said five police were wounded.
Paktia Gov. Rahmatullah Rahmat said heavy weapons fire hit the village of Kubki and a school, bazaar and clinic in Gul Ghundi village, wounding villagers and students.
The Pakistani side later denied its forces had entered Afghan territory or that they had hit civilian targets.