(Adds Hamid Karzai, Pakistan comment and killing of Afghan
police in Logar)
ISLAMABAD May 2 An Afghan border policeman was
killed and two Pakistani soldiers were wounded in an exchange of
fire along the border late on Wednesday, officials from both
countries said, in a clash likely to unsettle already troubled
ties between the neighbours.
A senior Afghan official said hundreds of additional Afghan
troops had been sent to the disputed Gursal border gate after
the exchange of fire, which lasted for more than two hours.
The stakes are high. The United States wants Pakistan to
help Afghanistan to coax the Taliban to the negotiating table
ahead of the withdrawal of most NATO combat troops by the end of
But relations between the South Asian neighbours have been
marked for decades by distrust and outbreaks of fighting.
Last September, Afghanistan sent extra troops and artillery
to the border with Pakistan as tensions rose over a spate of
cross-border shelling that killed dozens of Afghan civilians.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he hoped the clash would
"That being said, the Afghan government will do its utmost
to protect the Durand Line, and to make sure that no foreign
military installations or checkpoints ... hold at the Afghan
side of the Durand Line," he told reporters in Copenhagen on
Thursday during a visit to Denmark.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry released a statement saying
it had summoned the senior Afghan diplomat in Islamabad to
protest at what it called "an unprovoked firing incident".
A Pakistani military source said the shooting had been
sparked by an attack on a Pakistani checkpoint. The senior
Afghan official said trouble had started after Pakistani troops
attempted to fortify the border gate.
Two Afghan border policemen were wounded.
FRUSTRATION OVER PEACE PROCESS
The Afghan government has grown increasingly frustrated with
Pakistan, suggesting it is intent on keeping Afghanistan
unstable rather than helping to engage the Taliban in peace
Afghan officials say Pakistan has a long history of
supporting Afghanistan's Taliban and other insurgent factions.
Pakistan has in turn accused Afghanistan of giving safe haven to
Pakistani militants on the Afghan side of the border.
The latest tensions are focused on Pakistan's building of a
military gate, which Afghan officials say lies inside
Karzai has ordered his top officials to take immediate
action to remove the gate and other Pakistani military
installations near the Durand Line, the 1893 British-mandated
border. It is recognised by Pakistan, but not by Afghanistan.
Afghanistan maintains that activity by either side along the
Durand Line must be approved by both countries.
Also on Thursday, seven Afghan local police were killed when
a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in the troubled eastern
province of Logar.
In Copenhagen, Karzai said he had applied to have Afghan
prisoners being held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay removed
from a U.N. sanctions list, and wanted them sent back to
In 1999 the United Nations voted to place sanctions on al
Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban at a time when they were
cooperating closely. More than 120 people associated with the
Taliban remain subject to asset freezes and travel bans due to
alleged terrorist activity, among them some who are being held
without trial at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba.
(Reporting by Sheree Sardar in ISLAMABAD, Hamid Shalizi in
KABUL, Mette Fraende and Stine Jacobsen in COPENHAGEN; Editing
by Dylan Welch and Kevin Liffey)