Pakistan and Afghanistan traded allegations over the deadly border clashes and eventual rocket shelling that killed at least 15 civilians, including women and children, and wounded 80 more on the Afghan side.
Kandahar Governor Hayatullah Hayat said a barrage of rocket shells fired by Pakistan along Spin Boldak killed nine and wounded 50 in the border regions of Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said Afghan border guards had had opened fire first on the crowd, on Thursday, and that is what led to the clashes. They reported seven deaths from the flare-ups, along with 31 people who were brought in with bullet wounds.
The violence first started when crowds waiting along the Spin Boldak/Chaman crossing became unruly and attacked the quarantine centre on the Pakistani side along with some other installations.
“Pakistani troops responded to protect our local population and acted only in self-defence,” said Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, accusing Afghanista of firing on the civilians first.
They added that Pakistan immediately activated military and diplomatic channels to deescalate the situation.
However, local journalists had reported that the Pakistani security forces had opened fire on the crowd first.
The crossing, which had been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite Pakistan’s assurances that it would reopen soon, was due to open “temporarily” so that people may cross over for Eid al-Adha.
When it did not open, the large crowd protested and that is when things got violent. Three protestors were killed in the shooting.
The Afghan Defence Ministry said rockets fired by Pakistan pummelled the border area on late Thursday, inflicting casualties and drawing retaliatory fire from Afghan forces.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the shelling and called it contrary to the accepted principles of diplomacy and agreements between the two countries.
President Ashraf Ghani had strongly condemned the rocket attacks in his Eid message.
The National Security Council said they will investigate the incident and pursue it through relevant channels.