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Pakistani army: Afghan forces shell border town, killing 6


QUETTA, Pakistan — Deadly shelling by Afghan forces killed 6 people in a border town on Sunday, the Pakistani military said, as relations continue to deteriorate between neighboring countries.

The violence gripping Chaman in southwestern Pakistan follows a series of deadly incidents and attacks that have sent tensions soaring with Afghan Taliban leaders. Chaman is the main border crossing point for trade between the countries.

The Pakistani military’s media wing said the fire injured 17 people and blamed the casualties on “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing” of heavy weapons by Afghan forces on civilians.

In Afghanistan, a spokesman for Kandahar Governor Ataullah Zaid appears to link clashes between Pakistani and Taliban forces to the construction of new checkpoints on the Afghan side of the border. He said one Taliban fighter had been killed and 10 injured. Three civilians were also injured, he added.

The Pakistani military said troops responded to Afghan fire, but its media wing did not give further details. He said Pakistan had approached authorities in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to stress the seriousness of the border incident.

A doctor at a public hospital in Chaman, Akhtar Mohammad, told The Associated Press that live ammunition injured 27 people who were hospitalized for treatment. Of these, six died and seven were in critical condition.

Living on the Pakistani side of the border, Wali Mohammad took his injured cousin to Chaman Hospital. He said there were a number of explosions followed by rapid gunfire.

“We were on the streets like any other day off when suddenly a big explosion was heard and debris hit many people including one of my cousins,” Mohammad said.

A deadly shooting in November closed the border at Chaman for eight days, causing heavy trade losses and leaving thousands stranded on both sides.

Later that month, the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul came under fire. Pakistani officials characterized the incident as an attack on its envoy there and blamed Taliban officials for the security breach. Islamabad has also said Afghan leaders are harboring militants who are carrying out deadly attacks on its soil.


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