An Afghan policeman was killed and three were wounded in a five-hour gun battle with Pakistani troops along the countries’ disputed border, an official said.
The exchange of fire that began at 9 p.m. local time yesterday was sparked by Pakistani soldiers fortifying a check post in an area that Afghanistan claims, according to Idrees Mohmand, an official of the Afghan border police in the eastern province of Nangarhar. The media unit of Pakistan’s army didn’t respond to phone calls seeking comment.
“We’ve got information the Pakistan soldiers were improving their military installation,” Mohmand said in a phone interview. “We sent our border police last night to tell them to stop the work but they rejected this and after a long dispute” they opened fire.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a porous 2,640-kilometer (1,640-mile) frontier that was established by the British during the 19th-century. Pakistan views the line as the international border, while Afghanistan claims territory held by its eastern neighbor.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai last month ordered military officials to take action to remove Pakistani installations from the area. Karzai and the U.S. have accused Pakistan’s army spy agency of aiding militants fighting in Afghanistan, including the Haqqani Network.
Pakistan’s army is seeking to preserve its influence in Afghanistan ahead of a U.S. withdrawal of troops from next year. Afghanistan’s closer ties to India are opposed by Pakistan, which fears they represent a strategic encirclement.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said a bulk of the 66,000 U.S. forces now in Afghanistan will return home by the end of 2014, after which a smaller number of troops may continue to train and advise Afghan forces and carry out counter-terrorism operations.
To contact the reporter on this story: Eltaf Najafizada in Kabul at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at email@example.com