KABUL — Afghan and Pakistani forces clashed overnight in a historically disputed border region, leaving an Afghan police officer dead and others wounded, officials said Thursday.
The incident could add to growing tension between the long-uneasy neighbors, both of which are key U.S. allies.
For years, Afghanistan and Pakistan have accused each other of border infringements, but fighting has been rare. The clashes that erupted Wednesday night, in the rugged Goshta area of eastern Afghanistan’s Nangahar province, follow growing complaints from Kabul about new border outposts that it says Pakistan has established in the region.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai last month ordered his top officials to take prompt action to remove a gate and other Pakistani military installations that reportedly had been erected near the Durand Line, which was drawn in 1893 by the British during their rule and has been a source of tension between Kabul and Islamabad. Successive Afghan governments have refused to recognize the Durand Line as the border between the countries.
On Wednesday night, Afghan and Pakistani forces in the area traded heavy and small-arms fire in a drawn-out skirmish that continued into Thursday. One Afghan border police officer was killed and three others wounded, Afghan officials said. Media reports said several Pakistanis also were wounded.
The slain police officer was hailed as a hero in Afghanistan, and his body was paraded through the streets before his burial Thursday, with hundreds of people taking part in demonstrations against Pakistan, residents said.
Pakistan’s government made no statement about the incident, which followed reports of renewed rocket fire by Pakistani forces on some other parts of eastern Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said the trouble began when Pakistanis tried to fortify the security posts along the border area.
Kabul also has recently accused Islamabad of arresting and killing a number of Afghan Taliban militants who were staying in Pakistan and had expressed a willingness to enter into peace talks with Karzai’s administration.
The United States is pushing Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to join talks with Afghanistan before the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops and the rest of the NATO coalition by the end of next year.