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Afghan and Pakistani forces clash in deadly border firefight

Nisar Ahmad / AP

Afghans carry the body of a policeman killed in a border clash with Pakistani troops on Thursday.

An Afghan border police officer was killed and two Pakistani soldiers were injured during a prolonged firefight on the troubled border between the two countries, officials said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement that it had summoned an Afghan embassy official to protest what it called an “unprovoked firing incident” at a disputed border gate late Wednesday.

“Two Frontier Constabulary soldiers got injured as a result of the heavy fire directly targeting the post,” the statement said. “Pakistan security forces exercised maximum restraint and communicated first to the Afghan side about this serious violation through military channels.”

“This is not the first time that the heavy fire was initiated from the Afghan side causing heavy injury and damage to the Pakistani structures,” it added.

Afghan Ministry of Interior spokesman Sidiq Sidiqqi said the fighting continued into early Thursday.

“One [Afghan] border policeman was killed. Pakistani and Afghan local officials are holding talks to ease the situation,” he said.

The latest tensions are focused on Pakistan's building of the military gate at Gursal that Afghan officials say is inside Afghanistan, Reuters reported. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered his top officials to take immediate action to remove the gate and other "Pakistani military installations near the Durand Line."

The Durand Line is the 1893 British-mandated border between the two countries. It is recognized by Pakistan but not by Afghanistan. Afghanistan maintains that activity by either side along the Durand Line must be approved by both countries.

Afghans living near the border with Pakistan praised what they saw as Kabul's decision to stand up to Islamabad.

"Our security forces have done a great job standing up to Pakistan. We are proud because Pakistan keeps on pushing us and will try and occupy us some day. I'm angry about the situation but glad we have acted,” Mohammed Sabil, a taxi driver, said.

Gula Jan, who works at a gas station near the border, said: "We thought Afghanistan could not do anything against Pakistan -- that we were turning into slaves of Pakistan, but now we know that isn't true, and I back the Afghan government's actions.”

Afghanistan has grown increasingly frustrated with Pakistan over efforts to pursue an Afghan peace process involving the Taliban, suggesting that Islamabad is intent on keep Afghanistan unstable, Reuters reported.

Afghan officials say Pakistan has a long history of supporting Afghanistan's Taliban and other insurgent factions, the news service noted. Pakistan has in turn accused Afghanistan of giving safe haven to militants on the Afghan side of the border.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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