Afghans Stage Anti-Pakistan Protest


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Hundreds of Afghans rallied in a southern city on Tuesday to protest the latest incidents along their country's border with Pakistan, blaming the neighboring nation for a spate of shootouts near the boundary.

Hundreds of men marched through downtown Kandahar chanting "Death to Pakistan" and "Death to the ISI," a reference to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, the country's spy agency.

The demonstrators, who dispersed peacefully after the march, were protesting two shooting incidents, one on Monday and one last week that resulted in the death of an Afghan border policeman and the wounding of two Pakistan troops.

Relations between the two neighbors have been severely strained in recent months, and the mountainous region in eastern Afghanistan where the shootings occurred has seen acrimonious exchanges between the two sides over the demarcation of their border.

Afghanistan on Monday filed an official protest with Pakistan after its forces allegedly came under fire earlier that day along a contested stretch of their border.

Kabul's Foreign Ministry said no one was wounded in the incident, which occurred in the Goshta district of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, the same place where a firefight between Afghan and Pakistani forces killed an Afghan border policeman and wounded two Pakistani soldiers last week.

During that incident, a border gate built by Pakistan was damaged in the fighting. According to Afghan officials, Monday's incident took place when Afghan border police told Pakistani forces to stop repairing the gate and a two-hour firefight ensued before a cease-fire was called.

Pakistan claims the facility is on its territory. But Afghanistan does not recognize the disputed Durand Line, the 19th century demarcation between present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan as its border. Pakistan accepts the line as the boundary between the two sides.

Insurgencies in both nations have also contributed to deteriorating relations.

Both countries have accused each other of providing shelter for militants fighting on the other side of the border, and Afghan officials have claimed Pakistan has tried to torpedo peace talks with the Taliban.

Amir Shah and Patrick Quinn contributed from Kabul.

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