Afghanistan has deployed troops after a cross-border gunfight with Pakistani security forces on Sunday left at least three people dead, officials from both countries said, amid simmering tensions between the neighbours.
At least one Afghan civilian and two members of the Pakistani security forces were killed in the clash, said Abdul Hanan Zadran, acting police chief for Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province, south of the capital Kabul.
The bodies of the two Pakistanis were found on the Afghan side of the border near Pakistan’s tribal belt, Zadran told AFP. Three civilians were also wounded, he added.
The commander of Afghanistan’s 203rd Thunder Corps, General Shaur Gul, said the incident began with Pakistani soldiers shooting at a checkpoint close in Zazi Maidan district along the Durand Line, TOLOnews reported.
“At eight o’clock Pakistani military started attacking our local people and security forces fired back, killing three Pakistani soldiers. Three others were arrested, and our two Afghan civilians were killed, and two others were wounded,” Gul said.
Khost provincial governor spokesman Talib Mangal confirmed the incident, but said two Afghan civilians and four Pakistani troops were killed, and two members of Pakistan’s security forces were also detained on Afghan soil, he added.
The Pakistani military said two members of its paramilitary Frontier Corps were “carrying out routine surveillance” along the border when they were “fired upon from Afghanistan”.
Two of them died and five others were wounded, it said in a statement, without confirming if the Pakistani security forces also opened fire.
“Pakistani troops are exercising maximum restraint so as to avoid any Afghan civilian casualties. Military engagement is under way to defuse situation,” read the statement.
Afghanistan has deployed security forces to the area.
“Army, Police and NDS (National Directorate of Security) forces have reached Zazi Maidan district and they will respond to the Pakistan military attacks,” Gul Agha Rohani, 303 Spinghar Police Corps’ acting commander, told TOLOnews.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan accused Pakistan of carrying out air strikes in its Kunar province, causing “massive property damage” – charges Islamabad vehemently denied.
Kabul has long-accused Islamabad of providing safe havens for the Afghan Taliban, which has been waging an insurgency in Afghanistan for more than 16 years.
Islamabad rejects the accusation, countering that Islamist militants targeting Pakistani forces and civilians reside on the Afghan side of the border.
The issue of alleged safe havens remain a major source of tension between the two countries.
With reporting from AFP