PARACHINAR, May 17: Pakistan and Afghan forces traded heavy fire along the border in the Tari Mingal area of Kurram Agency early Thursday morning, amid evacuation of civilians from villages along the Durand Line.

Three soldiers of the Frontier Corps were wounded in the clashes, officials said.

Sources said Nato officials visited the border area on Thursday in a bid to reduce tensions between the two countries after clashes over a security post near Tari Mingal.

According to the officials, the Afghan National Army launched an attack on Pakistani security posts at 3.40am, which was repulsed. This triggered a panic among villagers of Tari Mingal, Kotri Sursurang and Piwar. Jet fighters were seen hovering over the border at high altitude. Sources said the clashes raged for about one and half hours.

The AFP quoted ISPR spokesman Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad as saying that the battle erupted after Afghan forces fired a mortar at Pakistani soldiers near the Tari Mingal area.

“The exchange of fire continued until 5am. There was a brief resumption of firing around 7am, but it ended quickly,” he told AFP, adding that there were no Pakistani casualties and that he was unaware of any on the Afghan side.

However, the sources told Dawn that three paramilitary soldiers were wounded in the firing.

Tension has been high since Sunday last when Pakistani and Afghan troops clashed over a disputed security post in the Gavi area, some 20 kilometres west of Parachinar, in which several soldiers from both sides were killed and wounded. The officials said the disputed Gavi Sar post had been vacated after a flag meeting held on Sunday last.

Tension further mounted when a convoy carrying US military officials was attacked in the Tari Mingal area on Monday, killing a US and a Pakistani soldier. The US military officials had come to the border town for a flag meeting.

The sources said the Pakistan Army had deployed heavy artillery pieces near the border with Afghanistan. Additional paramilitary forces were seen heading towards the border area and a senior military commander also visited the border town to review the security plan.

A large number of families from Tari Mingal, Kherlachi, Borki and Lalmai areas have vacated their houses due to the movement of troops on both sides of the border and shifted to Parachinar and other areas of Kurram Agency.

Ahmad Gul, a resident of Borki, told Dawn that political authorities had asked residents of villages along the border to move to safe places. Announcements were also made in villages which caused panic and people shifted their families on Wednesday night.

KARZAI: Afghanistan is saddened by the ongoing border clashes with Pakistan but hopes they will not affect a planned bilateral meeting to find ways of curbing the Taliban insurgency, President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday, reports Reuters from Kabul.

“We want an end to these skirmishes. It is not in the interest of any country,” Karzai replied when a reporter asked him to comment on the clashes, which Afghan officials say killed at least 13 police and soldiers and several civilians.

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