KABUL, April 19: Afghan troops tore down a new anti-Taliban fence erected by Pakistani soldiers on the border between the two countries on Thursday, sparking a gun battle which caused no casualties, officials said.
The clash was the first since President Pervez Musharraf announced plans earlier this year to fence 35 kilometres of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan to stop the movement of Taliban militants.
The Afghan defence ministry said in a statement that the fighting happened between the Afghan border town of Shkin and Angoor Adda in Pakistan's troubled tribal belt.
A TV channel quoted the ISPR chief as saying that Afghan forces “indulged in unprovoked firing” across the border into Pakistani territory.
The Afghan troops retreated after Pakistani forces returned fire, Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad said.
He said Pakistan had reported the incident to the tripartite commission made up of senior military officials from Pakistan, Nato and Afghan forces.
The commission was set up a few years ago to improve border coordination between the militaries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the international coalition based in Afghanistan.
The Afghan statement said Pakistani troops fired at their forces.
“Today at 9:30 am (0500 GMT) the Afghan army moved to the area and removed the fence. Pakistani troops fired on our forces. The Afghan army returned fire,” the defence ministry statement said.
It said that Afghan forces first reached the area on Tuesday, after which Pakistani troops immediately stopped work on the barbed wire fence and pulled back.
“But unfortunately, taking advantage of the darkness of the night, the Pakistani forces again erected fences overnight Wednesday,” the statement said.
The ministry said there were no casualties reported.
The statement said the Afghan government had begun diplomatic efforts to stop Pakistan fencing the border.
Afghanistan said it had written to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon to express “deep concern” over the issue. Afghanistan disputes the current border with Pakistan, known as the Durand Line, saying it cuts off part of its territory.
The Durand Line was drawn up in 1893 by British India.—AFP