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Pak envoy summoned over Afghan cross-border shelling

The Afghan foreign ministry today summoned Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan to protest recent cross-border shelling into the country's eastern provinces.

world Updated: Sep 27, 2011 11:30 IST

The Afghan foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan to protest recent cross-border shelling into the country's eastern provinces.

"Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq was summoned and told to ask his government to immediately stop artillery shelling," the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement.

"As Afghanistan wants to maintain good neighbourly relations with Pakistan, continuity of attacks will negatively impact the ties. The ministry of foreign affairs urges Pakistan to stop the shelling forthwith," the statement said.

The Afghan defence ministry too expressed concern at the Pakistani shelling and warned it was ready for a tit-for-tat response if the shelling was not stopped.

The move came after Pakistani security forces reportedly fired over 300 rockets into the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan.

Afghan officials claimed the shelling caused loss of life and property and several people had fled their homes.

Sadiq confirmed he was summoned to the Afghan foreign ministry.

"I told them that the Pakistani forces targeted militants from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, not Afghan civilians. However, the loss of life and property is regrettable," he told The Express Tribune newspaper by phone from Kabul.

Taliban militants, who fled to Afghanistan to escape Pakistani military offensives, have carried out several cross-border attacks on Dir and Chitral areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Dozens of security personnel and civilians have died in these attacks.

The Pakistani military says hundreds of Taliban fighters and commanders who fled military operations in Mohmand and Bajaur tribal regions and the Swat valley have set up safe havens in Kunar and Nuristan.

Sadiq said there was little or no writ of the Afghan government in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, which are used by the Taliban as a launch pad for cross-border attacks.

He said the Afghan authorities should deploy troops to these provinces to stop the incursions.

The shelling by the Pakistani troops was carried out at a time when tensions between Pakistan and the US have increased following accusations by American officials that the Inter-Services Intelligence agency had backed the Haqqani network in carrying out a string of terror attacks, including one on the US Embassy in Kabul.