Chaman crossing reopens two days after cross-border exchange of fire killed at least nine Pakistani civilians and an Afghan soldier.
Islamabad, Pakistan – A key border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan has reopened two days after a cross-border exchange of fire killed at least nine Pakistani civilians and an Afghan soldier.
Abdul Hameed Zehri, an official at Chaman as the crossing on the Pakistani side is known, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday the situation there is back to normal.
”The border is open for trade and civilian use as usual. Things are running smoothly and situation is calm here,” Zehri said.
The Chaman border crossing, situated nearly 120km (74 miles) northwest of Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, is one of the busiest crossings between the two countries and is used by thousands of people every day.
On Sunday, the Pakistani military said “unprovoked and indiscriminate” firing from the Afghan side at the crossing killed several civilians and wounded more than a dozen others – the latest deadly flare-up at their tense border.
The next day, Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told parliament the Afghan authorities had apologised for the firing.
”Provocation was started by Afghanistan. Our forces were repairing the border fence when they were attacked by the Taliban forces. In first round of firing, there were no casualties but in second round, they used heavy artillery and mortars which resulted in the civilian deaths,” he said.
The minister added that officials from both sides met following the incident, in which Afghan authorities assured such an incident would not be repeated.
Kabul said at least one Taliban soldier died in Sunday’s firing while 10 others were injured.
In a tweet on Monday, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry, said the repetition of such incidents would be regrettable.
He said the Afghanistan government “on its part has taken serious preventative measures and also calls on the Pakistani government to pay serious attention to preventing provocations that cause violence and adversely affect relations between the countries”.
Yesterday a tragic incident took place along the Boldak-Chaman crossing point leading to casualties on both sides. The repetition of such incidents is regrettable. The IEA on its part has taken serious preventative measures and also calls on the Pakistani government pic.twitter.com/Fdx0uqPfjV
— Abdul Qahar Balkhi (@QaharBalkhi) December 12, 2022
Also on Monday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he will call a meeting to review the situation at the border with Afghanistan.
“The government demands the Afghan government should prevent incidents which could hurt bilateral ties,” he told reporters in Islamabad.
Last month, the Chaman crossing was closed for a week when an Afghan gunman killed a Pakistani security official on November 13.