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Pakistan troops, Taliban exchange artillery fire along Durand Line due to border fencing issue

Source : Hindustan Times

Pakistan troops, Taliban exchange fire along Durand Line as fencing continues
An Armed Afghan Taliban Fighter (Left) and a Pakistani soldier (Right)

The Pakistani security forces and Afghan Taliban are still exchanging fire across the Durand Line. The latest incident took place in hamlets like Ganjgaal, Sarkano and Kunar – in the Bajaur area – on Friday. Various reports in the local media and videos tweeted by journalists show both the sides firing at each other.

According to some reports, the firing continued for 30 minutes on Friday afternoon. The firing started after a sniper, reportedly belonging to the Taliban, shot dead two Pak soldiers where a border fence was being installed. The Pakistani side fired at border hamlets in response, prompting retaliation from the Afghan side.

Heavy clashes took place in the area, with a number of shells and artillery hitting the villagers, the local reports further said.

Meanwhile, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Saturday claimed responsibility for the December 19 attack on federal minister Shibli Faraz in Darra Adam Khel in which his driver and bodyguard were injured.

The latest border clashes come amid claims from both Taliban and Pakistan that they have resolved the recent row over border fencing by agreeing that further work on the project that led to a tense situation would be done through consensus.

A senior official, who spoke to a group of journalists on Friday, said it had been decided at a senior level that fencing-related issues would in the future be dealt with through mutual agreement.

The official, however, did not exactly specify at which level the talks between Pakistan and the de facto Afghan government were held after Wednesday’s incident in which Taliban fighters disrupted border fencing and took away spools of barbed wire, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Pakistan has been fencing the 2600-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan since 2017 to end terrorist infiltration and smuggling despite very intense opposition from the neighbouring country, the report said.

Besides the erection of a fence, the project also includes the construction of border posts and forts, and the raising of new wings of Frontier Corps, the paramilitary force that guards the border.

The official said 90 percent of the fencing had been completed.

Fencing has been a contentious issue in Pakistan-Afghanistan ties because the Afghans dispute the border demarcation done during the colonial period.

While Afghan Pashtuns define their country borders on basis of Durand Line, Pakistan is opposed to this demarcation.

The differences over the status of the border have been so intense that they have in the past resulted in several fatal clashes between the troops of the two countries.

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