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Afghanistan returns bodies of 5 Pakistani soldiers

    PARACHINAR: Afghan officials handed over the bodies of five martyred personnel of the Frontier Corps as well as an injured soldier to the elders of Kurram Agency on Monday as talks continued between the two sides to deescalate tension along the border.

    According to reports, 10 attackers from the Afghan side were also killed in clashes that erupted in the area after the FC men erecting a fence along the border at Laka Tiga post in Lower Kurram Agency came under fire.

    MNA Sajid Hussain Turi, who is leading a delegation of local tribes holding talks with the elders of Zazi tribe of Afghanistan, confirmed the death toll and said that 12 more personnel of the FC were wounded in the clashes with Afghan forces. They were taken to a hospital in Thall Garrison.

    Military officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan held a flag meeting at a location near the border to hold ceasefire. According to local officials, the armed tribesmen who took position along the border to provide backup support to Pakistani troops were called back after the flag meeting between field commanders of the two countries.

    Hundreds of tribesmen carrying heavy weapons had rushed to the Laka Tiga post and adjacent areas on Sunday to support the FC soldiers who came under attack from the Afghan side. Heavy exchange of fire took place in the area. Armed tribesmen from the Afghan side also supported their border forces.

    Sources said that after the flag meeting the elders of Turi and Zazi tribes — said to be cousins — held a jirga to defuse the tension escalated after the border clashes. Political Agent Baseer Khan also attended the jirga held near Mali Khel village on the Kurram side.

    According to the sources, the Afghan officials asked their Pakistani counterparts to erect fence five metres inside the demarcation line.

    It is worth mentioning that the borderline on the Kurram side is properly demarcated and both countries have no dispute.

    Under a multi-billion-rupee border management plan, Pakistan began fencing the border on its side last year. The plan aims at preventing unlawful cross-border movement.

    The Afghan government has reservations over the fencing plan.

    Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2018

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