Pak-Afghan border crossing closed after deadly clashes - GulfToday

Pak-Afghan border crossing closed after deadly clashes


A general view of the Chaman border. File

Tariq Butt, Correspondent / Reuters

The Pak-Afghan border at Chaman in Balochistan province has been closed for an indefinite period after an armed man from the Afghan side opened fire on Pakistani security personnel at Friendship Gate, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and leaving two others wounded.

Officials said that Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire for more than an hour following the incident, with reports that five personnel from the Afghan side were killed and 14 others were injured in the gun battle. Seven of the injured were shifted to Kandahar hospital, according to the reports pouring in from across the Afghan border.

The closure of the border soon after the incident caused suspension of trade, including the Afghan transit trade, between the two countries.

Abdul Hameed Zehri, the Deputy Commissioner of the town of Chahman, which borders the Afghan district of Spin Boldak, said the closure came after prolonged firing between security forces from both sides the day before.

“Firing continued until late night from both sides,” said Zehri, adding that trade and border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan had been suspended at Chahman.

Zehri while confirming the border closure for an indefinite period said: “A man crossed into Pakistani side at Friendship Gate from the Afghan border and opened fire at the security personnel posted at the gate, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and injuring two others.”

Shortly after the incident, he said, the Afghan personnel opened fire on Pakistani forces which retaliated and the firing continued for some time.

While Pakistan border authorities immediately summoned a flagship meeting of the Afghan forces and demanded that the armed man, who had fired at the Pakistani security personnel, be handed over to the Pakistani authorities, “the negotiations remained fruitless as Afghan officials refused to hand over the man involved in the firing”, officials said.

The exchange of fire resumed in the late evening, which continued for some time, according to reports, as officials said the firing continued at the border area with small intervals.

Zehri said: “Border with Afghanistan would not be opened until the handing over of the armed man who is responsible for firing at and killing a Pakistani soldier.”

The soldier of Frontier Corps, who embraced martyrdom, was identified as Rehmatullah. His funeral prayer was offered at FC headquarters, Chaman, before his body was dispatched to his native town.

Officials said that Pakistani authorities had enhanced security arrangements at the border, as nobody was allowed to cross the border after the shooting.

The border closure also resulted in suspension of trade between both countries through the Friendship Gate. A large number of trucks carrying Afghan transit trade goods and containers carrying import and export goods were stranded on both sides.

A spokesperson for the Taliban administration’s interior ministry said a clash had occurred between border forces from both sides. He said it was due to a “misunderstanding” and the incident was being investigated.

A spokesperson for the media wing of Pakistan’s military said they were looking into the situation to determine what had happened.

Hundreds of trucks containing goods were stuck waiting on both sides, locals and officials said.

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, clashes have taken place between its security forcea and those of Pakistan, while militants have attacked Pakistani forces.

Pakistan has called on the Taliban to ensure it lives up to promises that it would not harbour international militants. The Taliban denies harbouring militants.

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