KABUL, Afghanistan - About 1,000 Afghans shouting "Death to Pakistan" demonstrated in front of Pakistan's embassy in Kabul yesterday, blaming the neighboring country for some of the bloodiest border clashes in years.
Many of the demonstrators were from the eastern province of Paktia, where the fighting between Afghan and Pakistani troops killed at least 13 Afghan border guards and civilians so far this week.
The demonstrators carried banners and shouted "Death to the ISI! Death to Musharraf," a reference to Pakistan's intelligence agency and President Pervez Musharraf.
Afghan police wearing riot gear guarded the embassy in downtown Kabul. There were no reports of violence.
"We've run out of patience with Pakistan," said Sultan Uddin, 50, from the Jaji district of Paktia. He said demonstrators were asking President Hamid Karzai "to give us weapons and remove the border police. We know how to deal with Pakistan."
Tensions have run high between Afghanistan and Pakistan over controlling their border and stemming the flow of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who stage attacks inside Afghanistan.
Afghan officials said this week's border clashes began when Pakistani soldiers entered Afghan territory. Pakistan said Afghan soldiers started the clashes by firing on border posts.
On Monday, unidentified assailants killed a U.S. soldier and a Pakistani soldier after a meeting in a Pakistani border region between officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the NATO peacekeeping force. The meeting was meant to cool tensions over the border fighting.
The combined patrol was returning from providing medical assistance to more than 600 Afghans in Kandahar province when it was attacked Tuesday about 25 miles southwest of Qalat in Zabul province, a coalition statement said.
The death brings the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 50, including at least 25 Americans.
An official with Afghanistan's intelligence service, meanwhile, said three other Taliban commanders were killed alongside the top field commander, Mullah Dadullah, in an operation in Helmand province over the weekend. One of them was Dadullah's brother, identified as Mullah Shah Mansoor, the official said.
The three other commanders killed were among five Taliban released from Afghan prisons in March in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
NATO has said Dadullah was killed after he moved into Afghanistan from his "sanctuary" - a reference to Pakistan.
Suspected pro-Taliban fighters firing mortars and machine guns attacked
a police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, and at least five civilians were killed in the ensuing gun battle, officials said.
The clash in Tank also wounded 12 civilians and six police, said Zulifquar Cheema, a regional police chief. Hundreds of residents were reportedly confined to schools and offices fearing injury if they ventured onto the street.
The attack came a day after a suicide bombing killed 25 people at a hotel in
the provincial capital of Peshawar. Security officials have hinted that the bombing could have been retaliation for the weekend killing of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's military chief in nearby Afghanistan, although Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in fighting terrorism, denies any role in trapping him.
- Associated Press