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Pakistan Troops Killed In Afghanistan Border Shelling

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PAKISTAN AFGHANISTAN BORDER
A Pakistani soldier fires a machine gun mounted on a tank in Manatu mountain at the central part of Kurram Agency, Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, during an operation against militants on July 10, 2011. | getty

ISLAMABAD -- Mortar shells and artillery fired from Afghanistan killed four Pakistani paramilitary troops in a tribal region Tuesday, the Pakistani army said. It was the latest in a spate of cross-border attacks that have raised tensions between Kabul and Islamabad.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the Frontier Corps soldiers died in the Angoor Ada area of South Waziristan, a northwestern region where the military has fought the Pakistani Taliban. The military relies heavily on paramilitary troops to police the lengthy, porous border.

Abbas did not blame any particular faction, but Western forces, Afghan troops and Taliban militants all operate along various parts of the Afghan side of the border. There was no immediate response from NATO in Kabul.

In recent weeks, militants have crossed the frontier on several occasions and attacked Pakistani villages, leaving dozens of people dead, according to Pakistani officials. Firing from across the border is also not unprecedented.

A U.S official in Islamabad said they were trying to determine whether American or Afghan forces on the other side of the border could be the source of the fire. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident was still under investiation

Islamabad and Kabul have accused each other of not doing enough to stop militants from slipping across the border, while Afghanistan has also blamed Pakistan for firing hundreds of rockets into its territory in recent months that killed dozens of people.

Elsewhere along the Afghan border, gunmen kidnapped eight Pakistani aid workers, authorities said Tuesday.

The aid workers were seized late Monday in the Surkhab area of southwestern Baluchistan province, said local administration official Habibullah Khan. Police officer Mateen Khan said they had been handing out food to refugees from Afghanistan.

A separatist insurgency has wracked Baluchistan for years and incidents of kidnapping for ransom are common there. Islamist militants are also active in the region. Earlier this month, a Swiss man and woman were kidnapped, and they have yet to be recovered.

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Associated Press Writer Abdul Sattar in Quetta and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.

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