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Afghan, Pakistani Troops Clash Again At Disputed Border


Afghan border police take up positions in the district of Goshta in Nangarhar Province, on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan on May 2.
Afghan and Pakistani forces have again exchanged fire in a contested border region, with each side blaming the other for sparking the latest incident as tensions rise along a historically sensitive frontier.

Afghan officials said the May 6 clash took place in the Goshta district of eastern Nangarhar Province, along Pakistan's border.

They said the clash lasted for more than two hours.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry alleged to RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that "the firing [first] came from the other side on Pakistan and our people returned fire."

Chaudhry added: "But the military-to-military contact has been established [now] and we are trying to resolve it."

Kabul blamed Pakistani forces for having "initiated attacks" on border posts.

"This morning around 8:20 a.m. the Pakistani forces in Goshta district, near the Goshta district in Jalalabad...initiated attacks of fire on our border police posts, and in reply the [Afghan] border police give a very rapid response," Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi was quoted by Reuters as saying.

He added that a cease-fire had since been established.

On May 4, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Islamabad of stirring up trouble on his country's borders to pressure Kabul into formally accepting the Durand Line as the international border with Pakistan. Karzai said Afghanistan "has never accepted" and "will never recognize" the Durand Line.

That disputed border was drawn up by the British in the 19th century.

The Interior Ministry spokesman on May 6 reiterated the Afghan side's determination to defend what Kabul regards as the country's border.

"There is tremendous support, public support, people are behind the Afghan national forces and [the support] is very high," Sediqi said. "The moral is very high and [the police] do their job in the right way and protecting the border is one of the sacred duties of the Afghan National Police Force."

The clash occurred in the same district as a bloody skirmish last week in which Afghan forces destroyed a border gate and checkpoint installed recently by Pakistan near the Durand Line.

One Afghan border policeman was killed in that clash.

Last week's fighting was widely condemned in Afghanistan and prompted protests in Kabul and Nangarhar.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and Radio Mashaal and by Reuters
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