Clash erupts on Pakistan-Afghan frontier, many casualties
Pakistan’s military said the clashes broke out as a census team was collecting population figures, but the Afghanistan police said Pakistani officials were using the census as a cover for “malicious activities”.world Updated: May 05, 2017 21:04 IST
Clashes erupted between Pakistani and Afghan troops on Friday along their disputed border, with many casualties reported, in another blow to already tense relations between the neighbours.
Pakistan’s military said the clashes broke out in a remote village near the Pakistani border town of Chaman as a Pakistani census team, guarded by troops from its Frontier Corps, was collecting population figures.
“Afghan border police opens fire on FC detailed for security of population census team,” a release by the media wing of the Pakistan Army said. “Exchange of fire continues. Chaman crossing closed.”
The Chaman crossing into Afghanistan’s Kandahar province is one of two main crossing points on the border.
While the military said one person had been killed, media reports said as many as nine people had been killed in the crossfire.
Afghan officials reported six people died on their side of the border.
The Pakistan Army said Afghan border police had been “creating hurdles” since April 30 for the census team in the Chaman area.
“This was done despite the fact that Afghan authorities had been informed well in advance and coordination was carried out through diplomatic and military channels for conduct of the census,” the military said.
Meanwhile, Zia Durani, police spokesman for Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, said Pakistani officials were using the census as a cover for “malicious activities and to provoke villagers against the government”.
“They did not heed the warning and we have clear orders to engage them,” Durani said, adding that two Afghan border police were wounded.
Tension has been increasing in recent months amid new exchanges of accusations of not doing enough to tackle militants engaging in cross-border raids. Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of sheltering Afghan Taliban militants on its soil. Pakistan officially denies the claims.
Last year, Pakistan started building a barrier at the main border crossing in the town of Torkham, near the Khyber Pass, angering Afghanistan which rejects the colonial-era Durand Line border drawn up in 1893. Afghanistan has never formally recognised the line as the border.