QUETTA: At least 12 people — 10 civilians and one sepoy each from the Pakistan Army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps — lost their lives and around 40 others were injured in firing and shelling after Afghan forces attacked FC personnel guarding the staff conducting census in two villages on the Chaman border on Friday.
According to official sources, Pakistani forces immediately retaliated after taking positions.
Soon after the clashes began, the Pakistani authorities closed the Friendship Gate on the border.
Chaman border closed amid exchange of fire
Officials said the clashes erupted when Afghan forces attacked FC personnel guarding the census staff in the Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir villages.
An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman said that Afghan border police opened fire on FC personnel detailed for the security of a census team. A civilian died and 18 people, including four Balochistan FC soldiers, were injured in the initial attack. According to early reports, a teenager died in the incident.
The military spokesman said that since April 30, Afghan border police had been creating hurdles in the conduct of census in the divided villages of Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir in the Chaman area on the Pakistani side.
“This was done despite the fact that Afghan authorities had been informed well in advance and coordination was carried out through diplomatic and military channels for the conduct of census,” an ISPR statement said.
The authorities sent more FC and military troops to the Chaman area after the Afghan forces attacked the personnel and shelled border villages and the town.
According to security officials, Afghan forces used light and heavy weapons and lobbed mortar shells that exploded in border villages, killing and injuring the residents.
“The bodies of nine women, children and men have been brought to the hospital so far,” Dr Muhammad Akhtar, Deputy Superintendent of the Chaman District Hospital, told Dawn and added that 40 injured people had also been admitted.
Officials said that four children and two women were among those who lost their lives in the attacks.
There were reports of casualties on the Afghan side as well.
According to AP, Gen Abdul Raziq, the police chief in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, said six Afghan policemen and two civilians were killed, while another 37, including 23 civilians, were wounded.
At least six severely injured people were brought to the Civil Hospital in Quetta and admitted to the Trauma Centre. The heavy exchange of fire continued from morning till late afternoon and the Afghan forces attacked civilian settlements in Chaman town.
“Mortar shells exploded in the Bograh and Guldan areas on the outskirts of Chaman town, killing and injuring people,” a police officer, Sajid Mohmand, said.
“A mortar shell exploded in a house on the outskirts of Chaman town, injuring three people,” a security official said, adding that most of the victims had been hit by mortars.
A large number of residents of Killi Luqman, Killi Jahangir, Badshah Adda Kahol Killa and other border areas evacuated their homes after the heavy shelling.
According to ISPR, funeral prayer of Sepoy Hasan Ali was offered at Quetta Garrison. The sepoy laid down his life during firing by Afghan border forces in Chaman. Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Aamir Riaz and other officers and a large number of army personnel attended the funeral prayer.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2017