Pakistan says Taliban forces building “unlawful” structure in border dispute
PHOTO CAPTION: A soldier stands guard along the border fence outside the Kitton outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz/File Photo
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan on Monday said the Taliban administration had tried to encroach on its territory with the construction of an 'unlawful structure' and accused Afghan forces of "indiscriminate firing" in an incident that led to the closure of the main border transit point last week.
The Torkham border crossing between the neighbouring nations has been closed since Wednesday after forces from both sides exchanged fire, stranding hundreds of trucks laden with goods and thousands of travellers.
The Taliban administration foreign ministry at the weekend criticised the closure of the border and said Pakistan security forces had fired on its troops when they were fixing an old security outpost near the border.
Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in response that the incident was related to the construction of a structure by the Taliban-led Afghan administration inside Pakistani territory, which violated its sovereignty.
"On the 6th of September, instead of a peaceful resolution, Afghan troops resorted to indiscriminate firing, targeting Pakistan military posts, damaging the infrastructure at the Torkham Border Terminal, and putting the lives of both Pakistani and Afghan civilians at risk, when they were stopped from erecting such unlawful structures," the statement added.
Disputes linked to the 2,600 km (1,615 mile) border have been a bone of contention between the neighbours for decades.
Pakistan's foreign office in the statement reiterated its longstanding concern over rising militant attacks and called on Taliban authorities to prevent its territory from being used by militants against other nations.
The Taliban administration denies it allows the use of Afghan soil for militancy and says Pakistan's security is an internal matter for the Pakistani government.
(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield, Editing by William Maclean)