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Six civilians killed in ‘unprovoked’ Afghan shootings: Pakistan

At least six civilians killed and 17 others wounded in “indiscriminate and unprovoked” shooting by Afghan forces, Pakistan army says.

At least six civilians have been killed by “unprovoked” gunfire by Afghan forces near the Chaman border, Pakistan’s army said, in the latest deadly border blast between the neighboring countries.

The media wing of the Pakistani army said on Sunday that the fire wounded 17 people and blamed the casualties on the “indiscriminate and unprovoked firing” of heavy weapons by Afghan forces at civilians.

The violence hitting Chaman in southwestern Pakistan follows a series of incidents and deadly attacks that have heightened tensions with Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers. Shaman is the main border crossing for trade between the two countries.

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In Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Kandahar governor, Attaullah Zaid, appeared to link fighting between Pakistani and Taliban forces with the construction of new checkpoints on the Afghan side of the border. He said one Taliban fighter was killed and 10 wounded. Three civilians were also injured, he added.

Pakistan’s army said the troops returned fire from Afghan forces, but its media wing gave no further details. He said Pakistan had approached authorities in the Afghan capital Kabul to highlight the seriousness of the border incident.

A doctor at a government-run hospital in Chaman, Akhtar Mohammad, told The Associated Press that live bullets wounded 27 people who were taken to the hospital for treatment. Of these, six died and seven were in critical condition.

People gather next to a truck set on fire by Afghan forces shelling in Chaman.
People gather next to a truck burned by shelling by Afghan forces in Chaman, a town in southwest Pakistan along the Afghan border. [AP Photo]

‘A big bang’

A resident of the Pakistani side of the border, Wali Mohammad, brought his injured cousin to Chaman hospital. He said there was a series of explosions followed by rapid gunfire.

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“We were on the street like any other day off when suddenly a huge explosion was heard and the 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 stranding thousands of people on both sides.

Later in the month, the Pakistani embassy in Kabul came under fire days after Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar traveled to Kabul to meet her Afghan counterpart, Amir Khan Muttaqi.

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Pakistani officials called the incident an “assassination attempt” on their envoy there and blamed Taliban officials for the security breach.

Islamabad has also said that Afghanistan’s rulers are protecting fighters from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) armed group, which is carrying out deadly attacks on its soil.

The TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has been fighting the Pakistani state for more than a decade. The armed group, ideologically aligned with the Afghan Taliban, demands the imposition of its readings of Islamic law and the release of its fighters, among other issues.

The TTP has carried out attacks after it ended a months-long ceasefire agreement with Islamabad.

People look at a shop damaged by shelling by Afghan forces in Chaman.
People look at a shop damaged by shelling by Afghan forces in Chaman [Jafar Khan/AP Photo]

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