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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Pakistan and Afghan forces clash at border crossing

Reports claim that three Pakistani soldiers were killed after attacks but this has been denied by military officials

Pakistan and Afghan forces, pictured, have repeatedly clashed with each other in the past. EPA
Pakistan and Afghan forces, pictured, have repeatedly clashed with each other in the past. EPA

Pakistan and Afghan forces have exchanged fire at the main border crossing of Chaman, a Pakistan city in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, according to military officials.

Afghan forces opened fired on Pakistani troops when they were working on the fence along the border on Sunday evening, officials said. Afghan media claimed three Pakistani soldiers were killed in the clashes that lasted for several hours, although the Pakistan military denied this claim.

Following the incident, Pakistan closed the ‘Friendship Gate’ at the Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing, leaving thousands of people and vehicles stranded on both sides of the border.

“The border has been closed but the situation is still tense between the forces of two countries. The troops are still positioned on the border,” Pakistani military official Major Muhammad Arslan told The National.

Pakistan is in the process of erecting fencing along most of its 2,500km border with Afghanistan, despite objections from Kabul that the fence would divide families along the border area where Pashto-speaking inhabitants live. Pashtuns live in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and are connected with cross border marriages.

Despite being laid out by the British during the colonial era in 1893, the border is still disputed.

Afghan officials in southern Kandahar province claim that Pakistan has encroached on Afghan territory along the disputed Durand Line. “We will defend our country at any cost,” said Zia Durrani, spokesperson of the Kandahar police.

On Saturday, Kandahar’s provincial police chief General Abdul Raziq warned Pakistani troops against proceeding with the fencing plan.

Both sides blame each other for the border closure.

Islamabad says that Tehreek-i-Taliban militants launch attacks against Pakistan from Afghanistan soil. The group is based in Afghanistan and has been involved in a series of assaults over the past few years in various Pakistani cities, most recently in Quetta.

Pakistan has demanded that Kabul eradicate their sanctuaries inside Afghanistan. However, Kabul accuses Pakistan of providing safe havens to the Afghan Taliban leadership, which is fighting both foreign troops and the Kabul government.

Pakistan and Afghan forces have repeatedly clashed with each other in the past. In April this year, two Pakistani soldiers were killed in cross-border fire from Afghanistan while working on a fence alongside Parachinar city.

In May last year, 10 people were killed, including women and children, in the two divided villages near Chaman during the Pakistan census.