May 10, 2007 / 2:17 PM / 11 years ago

Pakistan erects anti-Taliban fence on Afghan border

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan has fenced a part of its 2,500 km (1,500 mile) long and porous border with Afghanistan to prevent incursions by militants, the army said on Thursday, despite opposition from Kabul.

Pakistan, an important ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, decided to fence and mine parts of its western border after accusations from U.S. and Afghan officials that the Taliban militants were launching attacks from sanctuaries in Pakistan.

“We have completed 20 km (12 miles) of fencing in North Waziristan region and work is going on for the rest,” military spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad told Reuters.

He said the plan involved fencing a 35-km stretch in the northwestern tribal belt bordering Afghanistan in the first phase.

Afghanistan opposes fencing because of a long-standing territorial dispute, saying it would penalize Pashtun tribal communities living on both sides of the frontier, or Durand Line, named after the 19th Century colonial administrator who drew the border.

Last month, Pakistani and Afghan troops clashed on the border in the South Waziristan region after Kabul said its forces tore down a Pakistani fence.

Pakistan confirmed the clash but denied it was erecting fence there.

Authorities have held off plans to mine the border.

Pakistan acknowledges cross-border incursions by the militants but urges western and Afghan forces to tighten border controls on their side.

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