Pakistan reopens key Afghan border point shut after clashes

Quetta, Pakistan: Pakistani authorities have reopened a key border crossing with neighboring Afghanistan, officials said, a day after seven people were killed in clashes in Pakistan between troops and Afghan Taliban forces.

An Afghan Taliban fighter was also killed in Sunday’s violence that hit the town of Chaman in southwestern Baluchistan province, prompting local authorities to shut the border crossing known as Friendship Gate.

Pakistani officials say seven people died and 17 others were wounded when a mortar fired by Taliban fighters hit a restaurant in Chaman, which is adjacent to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. Pakistan’s military has blamed the casualties on the “unprovoked and indiscriminate fire” of heavy weapons by Afghan Taliban forces on civilians.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter on Monday that Sunday’s clashes caused casualties on both sides. He said the Afghan government was making serious efforts to prevent such incidents and “we also request the government of Pakistan to pay serious attention to preventing such provocative actions that cause violence. … It has a negative effect on the relations between the two countries.”

Earlier, a spokesman for Kandahar’s governor, Ataullah Zaid, said a Taliban fighter was killed and 10 were wounded in the clashes, which also wounded three civilians.

Angered over the fighting, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif tweeted Monday: “The Afghan Interim government should ensure that such incidents are not repeated.”

Afghanistan’s Taliban seized the capital of Kabul last year. Since then, ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have had ups and downs mainly because of cross-border attacks by Pakistani militants based in Afghanistan.

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