Shooting At Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Kills Three, Injures 17

Cheryl Sanders
August 1, 2020

However, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry blamed the Afghan military, saying Afghan forces "opened unprovoked fire on innocent civilians".

Cross-border artillery fire by Pakistan killed at least 15 civilians in Afghanistan on Thursday, Afghan officials said, prompting Kabul to put its ground and air forces on alert.

Pakistani and Afghan security forces also exchanged fire, witnesses said.

"Pakistani troops responded to protect our local population and acted only in self-defence", it emphasised. "To de-escalate the situation, the Pakistan side immediately activated both military and diplomatic channels and it was after hectic efforts that the firing was stopped from Afghan side", it said.

The statement underlined that the Afghan borders were opened for pedestrian movement and trade, "upon the request of the Afghan authorities".

The crossing, mostly closed to pedestrians during the COVID-19 pandemic, was briefly opened on Wednesday and was to open again Thursday to allow nationals of both countries to cross for Eid, which falls on Friday in Afghanistan and Saturday in Pakistan. Security forces resorted to aerial firing, leaving 10 people injured, they said.

"This unfortunate incident resulted in numerous casualties and deliberate/serious damage to state infrastructure on the Pakistan side", it said. According to reports, hundreds of protesters belonging to the All Parties Traders Union had been staging a demonstration at Friendship Gate against the border's closure for the past two months.

The governor of the southeastern Afghan province of Kandahar, Hayatullah Hayat, said the shells fell in residential areas of Spin Boldak and that women and children were among the 15 dead and 80 wounded.

Pakistan reiterated its honest readiness to further enhance fraternal relations with Afghanistan in the interest of peace and stability in the region. "We hope our constructive efforts will be reciprocated", the FO said.

Relations have been tense between the two countries for years, with Afghan officials accusing Pakistan of harboring militants who carry out attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan claiming Afghanistan backs militants opposed to the government in Islamabad. Additional troops of the Frontier Corps and Levies were also summoned to quell the protest.

The minister said that Pakistan has always taken care of Afghanistan's imports, but observed that a lot of smuggling takes place at the Chaman border.

Speaking at a news conference, the minister said that then there was reaction from Pakistani side as well.

"They tried to cross into Afghanistan by force and also damaged our posts, and unfortunately at the same time shots were fired from the other side". He said the PTI government was committed to sticking to the established worldwide practices with regard to its border with Afghanistan.

The violence flared when crowds waiting to cross into Afghanistan became unruly and attacked Pakistani installations, said a senior official in the Pakistani border town Chaman. And Pakistani forces also reacted. He directed provision of small and heavy weapons to the Afghan forces deployed along the border. "It is the responsibility of the government to provide employment to the people but there will be no compromise on security matters", he said.

Other reports by iNewsToday