CHITRAL, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani soldiers killed 30 Afghan militants who had crossed the border to attack the army, Pakistani military officials said Monday.
The raid Sunday night by a group of more than 200 Afghans could further damage an already difficult relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which often accuse each other of failing to halt cross-border operations by militants.
One Pakistani soldier was killed and four were wounded in the latest frontier incident, which lasted close to an hour, the Pakistani officials said. There was no independent confirmation of the number of militants killed.
“The attack happened in the Barawal area of Upper Dir. Pakistani forces retaliated and the intruders slipped back,” said one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Barawal is around 200 km (124 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad.
Tension between the countries has been high since Afghan officials accused Pakistan’s main intelligence agency of masterminding the September 20 assassination of Kabul’s chief peace negotiator with the Taliban. Pakistan strongly denied the allegations.
Pakistan has repeatedly blamed Afghanistan for giving safe haven to militants on its side of the border, leaving Pakistan vulnerable to counter-attack when it chases them out of its own ethnic Pashtun tribal areas in the northwest.
The border area is home to several of the world’s most dangerous militant groups, who train there and organize attacks on U.S.-led NATO forces and the Afghan army in Afghanistan, and government forces in Pakistan.
Afghan provincial officials say Pakistan’s military fired hundreds of rockets between September 21 and September 25 in eastern Kunar and Nuristan provinces, which share a long border with lawless tribal areas inside Pakistan.
Although, the shelling did not cause major casualties, it followed more than a month of bombardments by Pakistan’s military in June and July that Afghanistan said killed at least 42 people.
A Pakistan military official said the army only engaged militants who crossed the border to stage attacks.
Reporting by Qasim Nauman in Islamabad, Gul Hamaad Farooqi in Chitral, and Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan; Editing by Daniel Magnowski