ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed on a truce after cross-border clashes reportedly claimed the lives of at least four people on both sides of the border, Afghan officials said late Sunday.Pakistan Army said at least two soldiers were killed and five others injured in firing in Kurram tribal region from the Afghan side. Governor of Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province Hukam Khan Habibi was quoted as saying that two persons were also killed in the border district of Zazai Maidan. Habibi told BBC Pashto service that the clashes stopped in the afternoon as both sides declared a ceasefire after hours of cross-border engagement.”Fighting was stopped on Pakistan’s request,” the governor said.Police Chief in Khost Abdul Hanan confirmed that one security man was killed in the firing. A Pakistani official told Daily Times that high level contacts were made to defuse the situation. However, he did not offer any comment on Afghan claim about the ceasefire. The ISPR also did not respond to a query posted to them.“We approached Afghan side at the high level to stop fire from their side on the fencing and other work underway on our side. The work we are undertaking is to strengthen our border structures,” the official said, wishing not to be identified. An army statement said that the Frontier Corps (FC) troops were fired upon from the Afghan side in Kurram tribal agency.”Troops were carrying out routine surveillance along Pak-Afghan border for plugging of gaps and making necessary preparations for starting fencing in that area,” a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations said.”Two FC soldiers martyred and 5 injured. Pakistani troops are exercising maximum restraint so as to avoid any Afghan civilian casualties. Military engagement is underway to defuse situation,” the statement said.Governor Habibi alleged that Pakistani troops intruded into Khost’s Jandu Sar area at around 2am.”But our forces and locals fired on them and caused casualties,” he claimed.He said the Afghan security forces have bodies of three Pakistani troops in custody and those would be handed over to Islamabad in accordance with the state-to-state and international protocols. He claimed that the Afghan forces have also captured Pakistani soldiers, but refused to reveal their number.Witnesses in Kurram agency said that armed tribesmen rushed to the border to help Pakistani security forces. Announcements were made through loudspeakers in mosques, asking the Turi Bangash and other tribesmen to move to the border areas.Daily Times has learnt that Pakistani and Afghan tribal elders also established contacts to defuse tension and their efforts ended up in convincing both sides to declare ‘ceasefire’.In Islamabad, Foreign Office officials were in contact with the Afghan embassy to explore ways to defuse the tension.Pakistan and Afghanistan share nearly 2,600-kilometer, mostly porous, border and both sides routinely accuse each other of initiating cross-border skirmishes.Pakistani forces are fencing border with Afghanistan to stop the movement of militants, who are blamed for violence in both the countries.The recent incident comes days after both countries agreed to operationalise a new mechanism for dialogue, raising hopes for a bilateral comprehensive engagement on key issues including action against irreconcilable elements in both the countries. During Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on April 6 in Kabul, both sides had also committed to avoid territorial and aerial violations of each other’s territory and to deny use of their respective territory by any country, network, group or individuals for anti-state activities against either country.Published in Daily Times, April 16th 2018.