KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires in Kabul to the Foreign Ministry on Monday to file a “strong protest” after another clash along the countries' troubled border.
The skirmish, which broke out in the morning and lasted a couple of hours, underscored the deteriorating relations between the two countries at a time when U.S. officials are pressing them to step up efforts to reach a settlement with Taliban militants.
A statement issued Monday by the Afghan Foreign Ministry accused Pakistan of an “unprovoked attack” Monday against its troops in the Goshta district of Nangarhar province that involved both heavy and light weapons.
No Afghan casualties were reported in the firefight, which occurred in the same area where a clash last week killed an Afghan border policeman and wounded troops on both sides.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, told the Associated Press that a Pakistani military post near the border came under fire from Afghanistan on Monday morning, injuring one of the Pakistani troops.
“That post has been under attack for some time now,” he was quoted as saying, but added it was unclear who had opened fire Monday.
The area has been a source of friction between the two countries. Each side has accused the other of cross-border shelling that has killed civilians and of giving sanctuary to Islamic militants who target their respective forces.
Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Pakistan of building a border gate on Afghan territory, charges disputed by Pakistani officials, who said the gate was being constructed on their side of the border.
“In the case of Pakistani forces’ continued refusal to remove all Pakistani installations in Goshta and other areas and any further unprovoked attacks by Pakistani forces, Pakistan will bear responsibility for any consequences,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in its statement.
Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated on the outskirts of Kabul, the capital, on Monday, chanting anti-Pakistan slogans, according to news reports.
Despite the fractious relationship, Pakistan is seen as a key player in international efforts to broker a peace deal between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in that country before most foreign troops withdraw next year.
Pakistan has longstanding ties with Afghan Taliban leaders dating back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Many experts believe Pakistan continues to support insurgents fighting in Afghanistan. However, the government in Islamabad is concerned that if civil war breaks out in Afghanistan, it could embolden Pakistan's insurgency.
Special correspondent Baktash reported from Kabul and staff writer Zavis from Los Angeles.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times