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Af-Pak border skirmish stops, 9 dead, 42 wounded

Af-Pak border skirmish stops, 9 dead, 42 wounded

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May 05, 2017 - 14:38

KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Nine people were killed and 42 others wounded across the border in Pakistaninfo-icon as an hours-long skirmish between Afghan and Pakistani border guards came to an end on Friday.

The Pakistani media reported that five children and three womeninfo-icon were among those killed in the skirmish that broke out early in the morning. Four Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were said to be among the injured.

Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq, who was at the scene, told Pajhwok Afghan News that so far one Afghan civilian had been killed and eleven security personnel injured in the incident.

He said the Pakistani forces had also suffered casualties but he had no figures. The police chief Luqman village was part of Afghanistaninfo-icon and the Pakistani forces wanted to conduct population census there.

Gen. Raziq said the Pakistani side had been informed through the Afghan Commissionerate not to conduct the census exercise in the village, but they came in military vehicles and opened fire at the Afghan forces.

He claimed the Afghan forces retaliated in self-defence and heavy weapons fire from the Pakistan side continued.

As a result of the skirmish, the police chief said, the Friendship Gate, the border crossing between the two countries, had been closed and about one thousands families had fled homes.

Dr Akhtar, a senior healthinfo-icon official in Chaman border town of Pakistan, told the Pakistan media that more than 40 people had been injured, with five critically wounded victims sent to Quetta for medical treatment.

The Pakistan Army's media wing said exchange of firing had stopped and Pakistan and Afghan security officials would be meeting on the Chaman crossing for a flag meeting.

Shopkeepers in Chaman city shuttered their shops and residents evacuated homes in Killi Luqman, Killi Jahangir and Badshah Adda Kahol, Killa Abdullah's district police officer (DPO), Sajid Mohmand was quoted as saying.

Security had also been ramped up in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan following the cross-border attack, and additional contingents of the Army and FC had been dispatched to the Pak-Afghan border in Chaman, DawnNews reported, quoting military sources.

The Foreign Office (FO) also summoned the Afghan chargé d'affaires to lodge a protest against the cross-border attack.

The chargé d'affaires was told that the "unprovoked firing by Afghan forces had led to the loss of lives, disrupted the census in areas on the Pakistan side of the border and caused damage to properties," a statement released by the FO said.

A resident of Luqman village, Abdul Shakoor, said the village was on the Afghan side of the border and many Afghans ran businesses in the area bazaar. He said some families remained indoors but others were able to flee.

Earlier, Kandahar police official Ghorzang Afridi told Pajhwok Afghan News the clash erupted at about 4am and accused the Pakistani militia forces of initiating the gun-battle.  He claimed the Pakistani forces fired light and heavy weapons targeting the Afghan forces.

Adridi said additional forces had been sent to the border. He said the Afghan forces captured and torched two armoured vehicles of the Pakistani forces.

One Afghan border police was injured in the clash and he had no information about casualties across the border in Balochistan’s Chaman town.

He said Luqman village belonged to Spin Boldak border district of southern Kandahar province, but the Pakistani side considered the village their own.

Afridi said the clash occurred after Pakistan’s population  census officials, accompanied by border militia forces, visited the Luqman village to conduct the census, but Afghan border guards prevented their move. In retaliation, he said, the Pakistani forces opened fire at the Afghan forces.

ISPR said the Afghan border guards' opened fire despite the fact that Afghan authorities had been informed in advance about the census exercise in Pakistan and coordination was carried out through diplomatic and military channels.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told a weekly briefing in Islamabad that the Afghan authorities had been informed about the on-going census exercise.

"Dialogue is the only political means available to us to establish peace in Afghanistan," Zakaria said.

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