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Afghan-Pakistani Team To Probe Cross-Border Shelling

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) has asked Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (left) to put a stop to attacks on Afghan territory.
KABUL -- Afghan officials say a deal has been struck with Pakistan to investigate a recent surge in cross-border attacks that has raised tensions between the two neighbors.

Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said a joint military team will be sent to the country's porous eastern border with Pakistan to conduct an investigation.

Faizi revealed that Karzai asked Zardari to put a stop to attacks on Afghan territory and said the cross-border shelling was having "an extremely negative impact" on Afghan attitudes toward Pakistan.

"The Afghan president asked the Pakistani government to immediately stop its cross-border shelling," Faizi said.

"He said the attacks from Pakistan into Afghan territory were having a negative impact on the friendship between the Afghan and Pakistani people and that these attacks should be stopped immediately."

Afghan officials, who blame Pakistan for the alleged attacks, say thousands of rockets and heavy artillery shells have landed in eastern Afghanistan in recent months, killing dozens of civilians and forcing thousands to flee their homes.

NATO's military force in Afghanistan last month also condemned cross-border shelling from Pakistan.

Pakistani officials have rejected the allegations, insisting that Pakistani troops only respond to attacks from militants.

Afghanistan's parliament earlier this month dismissed the country's defense and interior ministers over alleged security failures, including perceived inaction by the two ministers in the face of the spate of cross-border shelling.

Afghanistan and Pakistan typically blame each other for violence by Taliban militants plaguing both sides of their border, known as the Durand Line.

With reporting by AFP