Chaman border firing: Pakistani forces responded to protect local population: FO

Shooting At Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Kills Three, Injures 17

Pakistan and Afghanistan are both US allies but their relations have rarely been close.

The Foreign Office clarified that Pakistan's security forces "responded to protect our local population and acted only in self-defence".

"Frontier Corps troops deployed on the border fired into the air". The incident unfolded on Thursday when about 150 people gathered on the Pakistani side of the Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing, many of them hoping to visit loved ones in Afghanistan for Eid, Usman Ali, the commissioner for the Quetta, told AFP. Prime Minister's Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq tweeted a picture of Afghan civilian officials receiving packs of candies and flower bouquets from Pakistani military personnel.

"Pakistan is undertaking concerted efforts to ensure regulated movement of trade between the two countries, which are being challenged by elements opposed to such regulation", it noted.

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

It said that owing to Eid ul Adha "pedestrians' move [sic] was also allowed".

Pakistan, on the other hand, says Afghan firing has killed four people and injured 28 others.

Pakistan's security forces opened fire on protesters demanding the reopening of a border crossing with Afghanistan, killing at least three people and wounding 30 others, security sources said on Friday.

Pakistani troops at the border, it said, were also fired upon from the Afghan posts.

The Pakistani forces "acted only in self-defence", a statement read.

Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said that the violent clashes occurred after the government put a stop to smuggling. "Pakistanis targeted civilians and Afghan forces alike", he said. The Chaman border crossing in Balochistan was closed due to coronavirus outbreak, leaving more than 100,000 people in the area jobless.

High alert has been sounded in Chaman border town after deadly clashes involving protesters on Friday.

"Some people enticed others and they tried to cross the post forcefully", the information minister said. He said the PTI government was committed to sticking to the established worldwide practices with regard to its border with Afghanistan.

The minister said Pakistan was trying to normalise the situation but reiterated that standard protocols related to travel through legal documents would continue. And Pakistani forces also reacted.

The protester set fire to a vehicle of the security forces injuring several which prompted the security men to open aerial firing.

The Foreign Office regretted that the avoidable exchange resulted in losses on both sides.

"This unfortunate incident resulted in numerous casualties and deliberate/serious damage to state infrastructure on the Pakistani side", it said.

On Pakistan's side, hospital officials reported seven deaths from the flare-up between the Asian neighbours who are US allies but often trade accusations of backing militants.

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. The military clash stopped once the Afghan side stopped firing.

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, said the FO spokesperson.

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