Pakistan, Afghanistan start joint survey after border clash

Pakistani census team

Afghanistan's Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal on Monday dismissed claims that Pakistani security forces killed 50 Afghan soldiers, saying that only two Afghan soldiers were slain and seven others injured. On the Afghan side, officials reported six killed in the incident, a significant escalation of hostilities between the two neighbors.

"The unprovoked firing from the Afghan side not only led to the loss of precious lives and injured many, but has also disrupted the census in areas on the Pakistan side of the border and caused damage to properties", a ministry statement said.

The two uneasy neighbors share a porous 2,200-kilometer (1,375-mile) border and have long traded allegations of allowing their border regions to be used by militant groups.

Pakistani and Afghanistan military commanders agreed to carry out a geological survey of the border area.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement describing the Afghan firing as "unfortunate" and urged Kabul to put an end to cross-border attacks that threaten efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan.

Sediqi further added that the Afghan troops prevented the illegal movements of the Pakistani militia forces inside the Afghan soil and it was the Pakistani troops who launched the attack first.

Akhtar Mohammad, a doctor at the government-run Chaman hospital, said doctors were treating dozens of people wounded in Friday's skirmishes between the two countries, adding that "some of them are still traumatized".

Afghan Border Police personnel keep watch during an ongoing battle between Pakistani and Afghan border forces near Durand line at Spin Boldak in the southern province of Kandahar, May 5, 2017. They accuse the Pakistani military and spy agencies of backing Taliban insurgents and destabilizing Afghanistan so that Islamabad can have an upper hand in geopolitics.

Maj. Gen. Anjum said four or five checkposts were also destroyed when Pakistani border guards retaliated to the cross-border attack. "These civilians were killed as a result of the Afghan shelling".

The Foreign Office summoned the Afghan charge d'affaires to lodge a protest against the cross-border attack.

More than 50 Pakistani villagers and several troops were wounded when Afghanistan allegedly fired across the border on census workers and troops escorting them.

The eruption of violence came even as Pakistan has been trying to patch up relations.

Both sides rushed reinforcements to the border and Pakistani authorities closed the Chaman crossing indefinitely once again. He did not elaborate on what those obstacles entailed.

"Work has resumed on both the Pakistani and Afghan side of the disputed border".

Pakistan forces meanwhile accused Afghan soldiers of crossing over the border and occupying Pakistani soldiers' strongholds. Kabul disputes the "Durand Line" and does not officially recognise it as an global border.



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