PM Gilani's telephone call to President Hamid Karzai came as Pakistani officials accused several hundred militants of crossing the border and attacking a village in the Pakistani district of Upper Dir, killing an anti-Taliban elder and setting fire to three schools on Wednesday. – File Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called the Afghan president on Wednesday to convey “serious” concern over cross-border incursions by militants, his office said.

Gilani's telephone call to President Hamid Karzai came as Pakistani officials accused several hundred militants of crossing the border and attacking a village in the Pakistani district of Upper Dir, killing an anti-Taliban elder and setting fire to three schools.

It was the latest in a series of cross-border incidents that have fanned diplomatic tensions between the neighbours.

Also on Wednesday, Afghan officials said up to 33 police and five civilians were killed in fighting after Taliban militants crossed over from Pakistan and attacked a remote region in eastern Afghanistan.

“The prime minister expressed Pakistan's serious concern over the activities of the militants along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, especially in Dir, Bajaur (and) Mohmand on the Pakistan side and Kunar on the Afghan side,” an official statement said.

Gilani told Karzai that the Pakistani army was “exercising utmost restraint, despite repeated cross-border incursions by the militants' raids from the Afghan side into Pakistan.” However, “the situation needs to be defused quickly,” he said, according to the statement.

Gilani called for an immediate meeting between regional commanders to avoid further killing of innocent people on both sides.

Karzai stressed that the two countries should maintain contact and “jointly frustrate the evil designs of the militants,” the Pakistani statement added.

There are Taliban strongholds on both sides of the border, but Afghan and US officials want Pakistan to do more to eradicate militant sanctuaries in its semi-autonomous tribal belt that is used to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials have also said that about 800 rockets, mortars and artillery shells have been fired from Pakistan into Afghan villages since late May, leaving dozens of civilians dead, injured or displaced.

The Pakistani army denies it has targeted Afghan territory, saying that a few stray rounds may have crossed the border.

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