KABUL (Reuters) - Guns fell silent on the Afghan-Pakistan border on Monday following a clash between the two uneasy neighbours a day earlier, officials from both sides said.
Earlier on Monday, several Afghan officials said forces of both countries traded fire in a southeastern border region for a second day in the worst clash in decades between the two sides.
But a Pakistani military spokesman, Major-General Waheed Arshad, and the Afghan interior ministry said there had been no clash on Monday and the situation on the border was under control.
Afghan, U.S.-led troops based in Afghanistan and Pakistani military officials were discussing the Sunday clash, Arshad said.
“There was no clash today. The things are very much under control. There is no cause of concern,” he said.
The Afghan interior ministry said the situation was calm and tribes from both countries were seeking to resolve the issue.
The clash on Sunday, according to Afghan officials, erupted after Pakistani forces took some areas in a border region in the southeastern province of Paktia.
Pakistan said Afghan troops started “unprovoked firing” on five or six border posts in the Kurram tribal region in northwest Pakistan. Pakistani paramilitary forces retaliated and killed up to seven Afghan troops on Sunday, according to Pakistani officials.
Afghanistan said its forces suffered minor injuries but two school children were killed, which prompted thousands of civilians to join government forces in fighting Pakistani troops in reaction to the “infiltration”.
Afghan officials said the clash was a provocative act by the Pakistani government aimed at deflecting attention from the violence in Pakistan over the suspension of the country’s chief justice.
Relations between the neighbours have deteriorated sharply over the past 18 months, largely over Afghan complaints that Pakistan is not doing enough to stop Taliban insurgents operating from the Pakistani side of the disputed border.
The clash comes two weeks after Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf met for the first time in months and agreed to step up security cooperation.
Afghanistan says a resurgent Taliban are operating from Pakistani sanctuaries. Pakistan, the main backer of the Taliban before the September 11 attacks on the United States, denies that and says the root of the Taliban problem is in Afghanistan.
Stung by accusations it is not doing enough to stop the insurgents, Pakistan has begun building a fence along parts of the border to stop militant infiltration. But Afghanistan opposes fencing a border it has never recognised.
Disagreement over the internationally recognised border, known as the Durand Line after the British colonial administrator who drew it, has bedevilled relations since Pakistan’s creation in 1947.
Pakistan is also deeply suspicious of involvement of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.