Afghan, Pakistani forces clash

Afghans chanted slogans against Pakistan in the Kochkin area on the outskirts of Kabul. Pakistanis repairing a gate at an outpost sparked the latest fighting.
Rahmat Gul/Associated Press
Afghans chanted slogans against Pakistan in the Kochkin area on the outskirts of Kabul. Pakistanis repairing a gate at an outpost sparked the latest fighting.

KABUL — Afghan and Pakistani forces exchanged fire along a disputed border Monday, the second clash of its kind in a week.

Both sides used artillery and mortar rounds in the two hours of fighting in the Goshta area of the eastern Afghan province of Nangahar.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force brokered a cease-fire, a senior Afghan general said.


The fighting was sparked when Pakistani forces began to repair an outpost that was the focus of Wednesday’s skirmish, in which an Afghan border officer was killed.

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Gul Nabi Ahmadzai, the commander of the Afghan border police, said Afghan forces did not have any casualties Monday. He said he was not aware whether there were injuries or deaths on the Pakistani side.

The clashes seem likely to intensify the uneasiness between Afghanistan and Pakistan, both potentially key allies for Washington in its war against Taliban-led insurgents.

Pakistan was a main supporter of the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001.

Many of the Taliban’s fugitive leaders live in Pakistani territory. Washington views cooperation from Islamabad as crucial in helping to end the violence in Afghanistan as most NATO and US troops prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014.


Washington is pushing Islamabad to prompt the Taliban to join talks with Kabul before the withdrawal. But many Afghan leaders say Pakistan is trying to use the militants to maximize Islamabad’s influence in Kabul after the Western troops leave.

Kabul recently accused Pakistan of arresting and killing several Afghan Taliban who were staying in Pakistan and had expressed a willingness to enter into peace talks with the administration of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. Pakistan rejects the charges.

Karzai last month ordered his top officials to remove a gate and other Pakistani military installations that had reportedly been erected in the Goshta area along the disputed border.

The border was drawn by the British in the 19th century, when Pakistan was part of India and India was part of the British empire. Afghanistan has never accepted the border designation.

Wednesday’s clash appears to have been sparked when Pakistani border forces tried to rebuild a gate at the Goshta outpost. Ahmadzai said the Pakistanis have pledged as part of the NATO-brokered truce to stop setting or rebuilding gates and outposts in the border region.


The spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul could not be reached Monday, and the government in Islamabad issued no statement about the fighting or the reported truce.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the ranking Pakistani diplomat in Kabul was called in and a ‘‘strong protest’’ was lodged ‘‘about the unprovoked attack by Pakistani forces that used both heavy and light weapons against Afghan forces.’’

The two neighbors often accuse each other of firing across the border, and Pakistan has said it is targeting insurgents seeking to enter its territory.