Afghanistan, Pakistan agree on cease-fire after border clashes

In this file photo, a soldier stands guard along the border fence outside the Kitton outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan Oct. 18, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 April 2018
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Afghanistan, Pakistan agree on cease-fire after border clashes

  • Bodies of deceased Pakistani soldiers handed over
  • Fencing of Pakistan-Afghanistan border angers Afghan locals

KABUL: Afghan and Pakistani forces observed a cease-fire on Monday after clashes that killed several people on the Durand Line, the disputed border between the neighbors.
Sunday’s clashes erupted after Pakistani troops began building installations in remote mountainous areas close to Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province, Afghan government officials said.
The move by Pakistan sparked armed resistance from locals in Khost who were later joined by security forces, resulting in an exchange of artillery and heavy fire that killed at least three Pakistani soldiers and two Afghan civilians, the officials added. 
“There was sporadic artillery fire last night but it’s calm now,” Kamal Nasir Osoli, a lawmaker from Khost, told Arab News on Monday. “Based on an agreement between the two countries, there’s a cease-fire for now.” 
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Radmanesh confirmed news of the truce, saying: “Pakistan had vowed that there will be no repeat of clashes again in the region.”
The bodies of the deceased Pakistani soldiers were “honorably handed over,” he said, adding that the clashes happened in three areas.
Afghan and Pakistani forces in recent years have clashed on many occasions in various parts of the Durand Line drawn by Britain, which ruled the region in the 19th century, leading to the separation of hundreds of thousands of people from their relatives and tribes. 
Unlike Islamabad, successive Afghan governments have not recognized the line as an international border. The fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has angered Afghan locals and Kabul.
Afghanistan has repeatedly accused Pakistan of shelling and firing rockets at eastern regions, including Khost. Islamabad says it targets those involved in cross-border terrorist activities.
The latest clashes in Khost came less than two weeks after the visit by Pakistan’s prime minister to Kabul, at the invitation of the Afghan government, to start a new chapter in their relations.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loomed

Updated 54 min 27 sec ago
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Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loomed

  • Officials with FireEye said on Tuesday the hackers appear to belong to a group it refers to as APT33

DUBAI: A cybersecurity firm is warning that Iranian government-aligned hackers have stepped up their efforts in the wake of President Donald Trump pulling America from the nuclear deal.
Officials with FireEye said on Tuesday the hackers appear to belong to a group it refers to as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to hack computers.
FireEye says the “cyberespionage” effort from July 2 through July 29 targeted primarily Mideast energy firms, as well as some organization in North America and Japan.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
FireEye similarly issued a warning about APT33 a year ago. It says “the current geopolitical climate” may lead to more hacking attempts by the group.