Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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Afghan soldier killed in border clash with Pakistan

Afghan soldier killed, several civilians injured after border forces exchanged fire at Torkham crossing, officials say.

An Afghan soldier has been killed after border forces exchanged gunfire with Pakistani soldiers at the main crossing point between the two countries.

The overnight fighting at the Torkham crossing began shortly after 9pm (16:00 GMT) on Sunday. Pakistani officials said eight civilians were wounded, while Afghan authorities said there were six injuries on its side of the border. 

A curfew has been declared at the Pakistani Landi Kotal town, which lies at the edge of the Khyber Pass, the main entrance to Afghanistan. 

Both countries blamed each other for starting the fighting, which reportedly stopped at 5am (00:00 GMT) on Monday. 

"The government of Pakistan expresses its deep concerns about the security of Pakistani soldiers near the border, in relation to the reports of unprovoked attacks that are unhelpful in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office said in a statement. 

The prime minister urged Afghanistan to investigate the incident. 

READ MORE: Torkham restrictions stir Pakistan-Afghanistan tension

"We currently have agreed on a ceasefire with Pakistan. We hope this problem will end through the work by diplomatic addresses," said the Afghan government's chief exective Abdullah Abdullah on Twitter.

"The current fight Pakistan started doesn't help anyone's interest."

Relations between the neighbours have been strained in recent months over the fencing of a 2km area at the Torkham crossing, which was opposed and stopped by Afghanistan. 

The row led to Pakistan's closure of the crossing last month, affecting thousands of people who commute across the border each day.

Pakistan says there is an infiltration of fighters from the Afghani side, and fencing of the border was the only immediate solution to keep a check on the people crossing. 

Kabul has accused Pakistan of harbouring fighters seeking to topple the Afghan government, including the Haqqani network, blamed for high-profile attacks in the capital.

The Pakistan-Afghanistan border has long remained disputed. Afghanistan has blocked repeated attempts by Pakistan to build a fence on sections of the roughly 2,200km-long frontier, rejecting the contours of the boundary. 

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