The Taliban government in Afghanistan has blamed the Pakistan army’s attempt to build a security post at their border as the reason behind Tuesday’s cross-border skirmish, causing multiple deaths on both sides, including at least three Pakistani soldiers.

“Pakistan forces tried to erect a military post near the line,” Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said in a statement on Wednesday.

The exchange of fire between the two sides happened in Paktia province on the Afghan side and Pakistan’s Kurram region.

Karimi said some Afghan authorities went to talk to the Pakistani officials allegedly building the border post, but they were fired upon.

“Both sides exchanged fires, which may have resulted in the loss of lives,” he said in the statement, without revealing the details of Afghan casualties.

The statement added that the Afghan government is investigating the matter and that the leadership of both nations were in touch to ensure no repeat of such an incident takes place.

The Taliban’s response came a day after the Pakistani military claimed the “terrorists from inside Afghanistan” opened fire on Pakistani troops stationed in Kurram, resulting in “heavy casualties” for the rebel fighters.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for activities against Pakistan and expects that Afghan government will not allow conduct of such activities in future,” the statement said.

Continuing tensions

The incident came amid simmering tensions between the South Asian neighbours since the Taliban seized power in Kabul a year ago.

On Wednesday, the Taliban rejected reports claiming Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar had sought refuge in Afghanistan.

JeM aims to overthrow India’s control over Indian-administered Kashmir and was designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations in 2001. Azhar was added to the list in 2019.

Pakistani media reports quoting foreign ministry sources on Tuesday said Islamabad had written to Kabul, asking to locate and arrest Azhar.

While the Pakistani government did not respond to the reports, the Taliban issued a statement, rejecting Azhar’s presence in Afghanistan.