Pakistan claimed Sunday to have killed 50 Afghan border troops and destroyed five of their posts in sporadic clashes since Friday near a major border crossing. Afghan officials called the high death toll “baseless” but said that several days of cross-border fighting had left two Afghan forces dead.
The fighting in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province erupted after Pakistan claimed that Afghan border police had fired without provocation at armed guards providing security for Pakistani census teams in the border community of Chaman, killing nine people and injuring 40. Afghan officials said the Pakistani team including uniformed Frontier Corps guards had crossed into Afghan territory.
A Pakistani army official, Maj. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad, told journalists at the border crossing that two Pakistani soldiers were killed and 9 wounded in the fighting, which began Friday. He also said 100 Afghan security forces were wounded.
But Sediq Siddiqi, a senior spokesman for the Kabul government, on Sunday “totally rejected” the Pakistani claim of killing 50 Afghan forces as “very false.” A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which oversees the Afghan border police, also said the claim was “totally baseless.”
The conflicting versions of these events highlighted the hair-trigger state of relations between the two Muslim-majority countries, which share a long and conflict-ridden border, despite recent diplomatic overtures. Pakistan sent two delegations to Kabul last week, one military and one civilian, to explore ways to improve ties.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Pamela Constable