April 16, 2018
Afghanistan has returned the dead bodies of five Pakistani soldiers to Pakistan following clashes near the two countries’ disputed border, Afghan officials say.
Hukum Khan Habibi, the governor of Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost, said that one captured soldier was also handed over to Pakistan’s military on April 16.
The dead bodies and the soldier were returned through mediation by tribal elders in the province’s Zazi Maidan district, said a spokesman for Khost police, Basir Bina.
Afghan security officials told RFE/RL that two Afghan police officers were also killed in the clashes that erupted between Afghan border police and members of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps in Zazi Maidan district early on April 15.
The two sides later agreed on a cease-fire. They both claim troops from the other country started the fighting.
Abdul Hanan, the acting provincial police chief in Khost, said that the clashes broke out in three locations along the border in the early hours of April 15, after Pakistani paramilitary troops ignored repeated warnings from locals and Afghan border police officers and crossed the border.
The Pakistani Army said the Afghan side fired on the Frontier Corps fighters while they were carrying out “routine surveillance” along the border.
Afghanistan routinely accuses the Pakistani Army of attacking civilians and security checkpoints on the disputed border, accusations Pakistan denies.
Pakistan claims it is subject to attacks by Pakistani Taliban militants that Islamabad says are based on the Afghan side of the border.
The two countries share a 2,500-kilometer border known as the Durand Line, which Pakistan considers to be an international border. Afghanistan rejects the colonial-era border that was created in 1893.
Last year, Pakistan said it began building a fence along the border to improve security, a move that sparked condemnations in Kabul.
Pakistani forces have continued to build border fortifications, sparking numerous clashes along the border.
The fencing has threatened to disrupt the daily lives of people living in communities that straddle the border. In some villages, mosques and houses reportedly have one door in Pakistan and another in Afghanistan.
With reporting by Reuters and dpa
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.