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At least 15 protesters killed at Pakistan-Afghanistan border, say officials

Published: Updated:

Clashes between Pakistan’s border forces and people trying to cross into Afghanistan for the festival of Eid al-Adha have killed several civilians, officials said on Friday.

Differing accounts emerged from Kabul and Islamabad, with Afghan officials accusing Pakistan of firing shells and gunfire across the border into a crowd of civilians, killing 15 people.

The incident unfolded on Thursday when about 150 people gathered on the Pakistani side of the Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing, many of them hoping to visit loved ones in Afghanistan for Eid al-Adha, Usman Ali, the commissioner for the Quetta border region, told AFP.

The normally busy crossing has been largely closed for months in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but was briefly opened on Thursday morning.

Ali said protesters grew angry when the crossing point was again closed in the afternoon.

“Frontier Corps troops deployed on the border fired into the air. This did not kill anyone but later protesters started throwing stones at the troops,” Ali said.

Read more: Car bomb kills at least 17 in Afghanistan ahead of ceasefire, Eid al-Adha

He claimed the border guards then threw stones back, killing five protesters. He denied the guards had opened fire on people.

On the Afghan side meanwhile, Baheer Ahmad, a spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, told AFP that 15 people had been killed and 80 others wounded “as a result of shelling and sporadic firing by the Pakistani border forces.”

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One policeman was among the dead, with the rest of the casualties civilians, he said.

Afghan defense ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said on Facebook that “attacks by the Pakistani military on Afghan soil on Thursday” had killed nine civilians and wounded 50 others.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry and border force did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Tensions are high between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with Kabul frequently lashing out at Islamabad for allegedly sheltering, funding and supplying the Taliban.

Pakistan denies the claims.