Exchange of fire on Afghanistan-Pakistan border kills civilians

Civilian martyred 18 injured in cross border firing from Afghanistan

At least eight civilians were killed, according to officials - seven on the Pakistani side, and one on the Afghan side - and dozens wounded before the fighting near the Chaman border crossing subsided late Friday afternoon, officials said.

Three Afghan border-police personnel were also injured in the clash, Afghan officials said.

The statement further added that since 30th April, the Afghan Border Police had been creating hurdles in conduct of census in two villages of Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir in Chaman area, on Pakistani side of the border.

"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 conducting census", Maj Gen Ghafoor added.

The border is not the only area of dispute between the neighbours: Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring the Afghan Taliban, though Islamabad says it provides the militants with safe haven as a "lever" to bring them to peace talks.

A senior health official in the province, Akhtar, said the death toll from the cross-border firing reached three, and a woman is among the dead.

But Samim Khpalwak, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, said the Pakistani team had strayed across the border.

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QUETTA, Pakistan — Backed by artillery, Afghan security forces fired across the border on Pakistani census workers and troops escorting them on Friday, killing nine and drawing a response from the military, Pakistan said.

At least four Afghan army personnel were killed and 37, including 23 civilians and 14 military personnel were injured on the Afghan side of the border. "We immediately left our houses and came to Chaman bazaar".

He asked Afghan DGMO that their forces to stay on their side of the border and defuse the situation.

Meanwhile, the political administration said that a curfew was implemented in Khyber Agency following the exchange of fire at Torkham Border.

After over a month of closure, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered reopening of the borders as a goodwill gesture.

"Externalising Afghanistan's problems and blaming others for the continued instability in their country does not help".

The gunfight prompted Pakistani authorities to shut the Chaman border crossing, one of only two major crossing points along the disputed frontier, and threatens to exacerbate already tense relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

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