QUETTA: The Pak-Afghan border at Chaman has been closed for an indefinite period after an armed man from the Afghan side opened fire on Pakistani security personnel at Friendship Gate, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and leaving two others wounded on Sunday.

Official sources said that Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire for more than an hour following the incident, with reports that five personnel from the Afghan side were killed and 14 others were injured in the gun battle. Seven of the injured were shifted to Kandahar hospital, according to the reports pouring in from across the Afghan border.

The closure of border soon after the incident caused suspension of trade, including the Afghan transit trade, between the two countries.

Chaman Deputy Commissioner Abdul Hameed Zehri while confirming the border closure for an indefinite period said: “A man crossed into Pakistani side at Friendship Gate from the Afghan border and opened fire at the security personnel posted at the gate, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and injuring two others.”

Shortly after the incident, he said, the Afghan personnel opened fire on Pakistani forces which retaliated and the firing continued for some time.

While Pakistan border authorities immediately summoned a flagship meeting of the Afghan forces and demanded that the armed man, who had fired at the Pakistani security personnel, be handed over to the Pakistani authorities, “the negotiations remained fruitless as Afghan officials refused to hand over the man involved in the firing”, official sources said.

The exchange of fire resumed in the late evening, which continued for some time, according to reports, as officials said the firing continued at the border area with small intervals.

DC Zehri said: “Border with Afghanistan would not be opened until the handing over of the armed man who is responsible for firing at and killing of Pakistani soldier.”

The soldier of Frontier Corps, who embraced martyrdom, was identified as Rehmatullah. His funeral prayer was offered at FC headquarters, Chaman, before his body was dispatched to his native town.

Officials said that Pakistani authorities had enhanced security arrangements at the border, as nobody was allowed to cross the border after the shooting.

The border closure also resulted in suspension of trade between both countries through the Friendship Gate. A large number of trucks carrying Afghan transit trade goods and containers carrying import and export goods were stranded on both sides.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2022

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