KURRAM: A day after the air strikes by the Pakistani military in Afghanistan provoked clashes along the border, Tuesday remained a relatively calmer day as guns on both sides of the boundary remained silent, barring the Angoor Adda border, despite the tense situation.

In the early hours of Monday, Pakistan struck militant hideouts in Khost and Paktika provinces which, according to the Afghan interim government, killed eight people.

The Foreign Office had confirmed the strikes, saying they were aimed at the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, which recently targeted security forces in North Waziristan.

The air strikes were responded to by Afghanistan forces which used heavy weapons, including mortars, to target troops across the border in Kurram and North Waziristan.

‘Temporary truce’ in Kurram, isolated exchanges reported in Angoor Adda; trade remains suspended

The security forces responded in the same coin. The hostilities also led to the closure of multiple border crossings, which remained closed on Tuesday as well.

Though the guns were silent in Kurram in light of a temporary truce, the Pak-Afghan border as well as educational institutions in the region remained closed throughout the day, affecting trade and routine life.

In Kurram district, both sides agreed to a temporary truce on Monday night through the efforts of local elders from both sides of the border.

The elders again met on Tuesday and it was decided that the issue should be resolved by both countries through diplomatic channels.

Syed Asghar, a local elder, told Dawn that people on both sides of the border have been affected due to the firing and forced to leave their homes due to hostilities. He said that both countries should exercise restraint and make efforts to resolve the disputes through diplomatic channels.

On the other hand, trade activities also remained suspended at the Kharlachi border crossing in Kurram for the second day.

The relatively calm situation along the border was interrupted by clashes in the mountainous areas surrounding the Angoor Adda border crossing of Lower South Waziristan. The exchange of fire caused panic in the area but no reports of damages were received.

A police official in Wana told Dawn the shells landed near the bunkers of both sides; however, there were no reports of damage. In addition to the disruption in trade activities in Angoor Adda Bazaar, the situation also affected the links between communities living on both sides of the border.

AFP adds: According to a Taliban spokesperson, skirmishes along the border had stopped. “The situation is calm, the fighting has stopped,” Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. A senior police officer in the Pakistani border district of Kurram told told the agency that Afghan security forces struck the area with mortar shells.

“As a result, three security posts and five houses of civilians suffered partial damage, with nine individuals, including four security personnel wounded,” the officer said, asking not to be named.

“Silence prevails on the border today, and security forces have reinforced their positions.” Border tensions between the two countries have steadily escalated since the Taliban government seized power in 2021.

Islamabad has accused Kabul’s Taliban government of harbouring militant fighters, allowing them to strike on Pakistani soil with impunity.

Dilawar Wazir in South Waziristan also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2024

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