Pakistan Afghanistan border
An overview of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Torkham, Pakistan Fayaz Aziz/Reuters

At least five Pakistani soldiers and over 10 Islamists were killed in cross-border clashes at multiple frontier positions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gunfight was reported at three border points on Sunday (5 March) night and continued through the early hours of Monday.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistani army, said "terrorists" from the other side of the border attempted to penetrate the positions leading to intense fighting.

The statement added: "Effective presence, vigilance and response repulsed terrorists' attempt. In exchange of fire five soldiers embraced martyrdom and over 10 terrorists were reportedly killed."

The slain soldiers have been identified as Naik Sanaullah, Naik Safdar, Sepoy Altaf, Sepoy Nek Mohammad and Sepoy Anwar. Jamaatul Ahrar, an Islamist group linked to the Tehreek-e-Taliban, which has recently launched several attacks in Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the onslaught.

Pakistan's army chief General Qamar Jawad Bajwa condemned the attack saying: "Terrorists are a common threat and must be denied freedom of movement/action along the border." He added that the permanent presence of Pakistani troops near the Afghan border is necessary to keep a close watch on the situation.

Tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan have flared up in recent months with frequent multiple attacks. A series of terror attacks in Pakistan – blamed mostly on Afghan-based elements – rocked the country with more than 100 people killed in February alone. The increasing attacks have also forced Pakistan to shut its border with Afghanistan.