Pakistani and Afghan forces clash at border | News | DW | 05.05.2017
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Pakistani and Afghan forces clash at border

Deadly clashes erupted between Afghan border guards and Pakistani soldiers escorting census takers in a remote border village. Locals claim that several homes were destroyed in cross-border shelling.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan accuse each other of starting a gun battle near the border town of Chaman early on Friday.  Locals in the area said Pakistani and Afghan troops guns and artillery shells.

"So far, we have received nine bodies. These civilians were killed as a result of the Afghan shelling," said Akhtar Mohammad, a doctor at the state-run hospital in Chaman.

Dozens more people on both sides were reported injured, some of them in critical conditions. Several Afghan border guards were also wounded. Some of the injured said their homes were destroyed in the shelling.

Pakistani troops were accompanying census workers in the border area when the fighting started. Afghan police spokesman Zia Durani accused Islamabad of using the  census as cover for "malicious activities and to provoke villagers against the government."

Durani also claimed Pakistani "militias" were trying to cross the border.

"They did not heed the warning, and we have clear orders to engage them," the spokesman from the Afghan state of Kandahar said.

Afghanistan authorities have repeatedly blamed Pakistan for sheltering Taliban forces on its territory.

British-made border

In turn, the Pakistani military said Afghanistan border guards were creating "hurdles" for census taking "despite the fact that Afghan authorities had been informed well in advance" of the process. The army closed the Chaman border crossing after the exchange of fire, which is one of the two main transfer points on the border.

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The two countries are separated by a porous 2,430-kilometer (1,510-mile)  demarcation line originally drawn up by the British in the late 19th century. Kabul has never formally recognized the process.

While various tribes live on both sides of the borders and many locals cross the border daily with impunity, both governments have recently been attempting to control the movement in the area. Earlier this year, Pakistan closed down the border for over a month after a suicide bomber killed nearly 90 people at a Sufi Islam shrine.

dj/sms(AFP, dpa, Reuters)

 

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