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Karzai Urges End To Clashes Between Afghan, Pakistani Troops

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (file photo) (AFP) May 17, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai today called for an end to clashes between Afghan and Pakistani troops, saying they are in neither country's interest.

"We want an end to these skirmishes," Karzai said. "I hope that these are just incidents without any intention behind them."

Pakistani and Afghan troops exchanged mortar and gun fire along their contested border early today.

Fighting between Afghan and Pakistani troops in the same area on May 13 and 14 left at least 13 Afghan border troops and civilians dead.

On May 16, hundreds of Afghans demonstrated outside the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, with many shouting "Death to Pakistan."

Afghan officials blamed this week's violence on Pakistani soldiers, accusing them of entering Afghan territory. Pakistani officials blame Afghan soldiers, saying they fired first on border posts.

The highest levels of both governments have traded accusations over the past year of intelligence and other security failures in connection with efforts to curb cross-border attacks aimed at destabilizing the Afghan government.

That has added to historical tensions that are most starkly illustrated by Kabul's rejection of the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan -- known in Kabul as the Durand Line after the demarcation line drawn in 1893 by the British through Pashtun tribal lands to suit the defensive needs of British colonial India.

(RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Reuters, AFP)