Pakistan and Afghanistan have gun battle at border

Kandahar,Pakistan. Officials have reported Afghan border police opened fire on troops who were guarding a census team collecting information near a border area today. The spokesperson of a government hospital in Chaman told reporters that at least six people have been killed and 31 injured.

Senior officials in Kandahar said the Pakistani team had been counting people on the Afghan side of the border. Both nations are divided by a porous border drawn by the British decades ago and disputed by Afghanistan frequently.

Sources say the violence happened in Luqman and Jahangir, villages straddling the border. A clash on this scale is rare. But ties between the two nations are poor, as they hold each responsible for failing to tackle militants opperating on their soil.

Pakistan has shut border crossings after a spate of attacks it blamed on militants from over the border.Pakistan’s military said that Afghan authorities had been informed in advance about the census work. It accused Afghan border police of “creating difficulty” for the census takers.

The border region dispute became particularly tense after the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar, when Pakistan started pushing Afghan refugees out of the country. In June last year, a series of skirmishes sparked by Pakistan’s attempt to build a gate on Torkham border led to several casualties, including a Pakistan army captain.

The Pakistani attack came after the bombing of a Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan in which over 80 people were killed. In February of this year, Pakistani troops resumed heavy shelling of Afghan territory in Nangarhar region, saying the area was hosting anti-Pakistan militants. Afghan officials reported several deaths on their side and the dislocation of people from villages close to the border.