Islamabad/Kabul, Dec 11 (EFE).- At least seven people died, including six civilians, and another 27 were injured on Sunday when Afghan Taliban forces opened fire with heavy weapons on Pakistani security forces along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Pakistani army said.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistani army, said Afghan border forces directed unprovoked and indiscriminate heavy weapons fire, including artillery and mortar rounds, onto the civilian population in the Chaman district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
“Pakistani border troops have given befitting albeit measured response against the uncalled for aggression, but avoided targeting innocent Civilians in the area,” said ISPR in a statement.
The Afghan Taliban, for their part, accused Pakistan of initiating the clash, which occurred on the border between the southern Afghan province of Kandahar and Balochistan.
On the Afghan side, one member of the country’s Taliban security forces was killed and 10 others were injured, including three civilians, the spokesman for the Kandahar governor, Haji Zahid, told EFE.
The spokesman said that Pakistani troops began firing into Afghanistan in reprisal after Afghan forces tried to erect a structure along the disputed border.
Pakistani authorities requested an explanation from Afghan officials in Kabul, emphasizing the seriousness of the incident and demanding the implementation of measures to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Juma Khan, an official with the deputy commissioner’s office in Chaman, told EFE that “There has been intense firing between the Pakistani and Taliban forces at the Chaman border for many hours in the day,” adding that it was still unclear how many rockets were fired and how the clash started.
He said that the firing began on Sunday morning but it wasn’t until the afternoon that the Taliban began bombarding civilian zones in Pakistan.
The Pakistani injured were reportedly rushed to hospitals in Chaman and Quetta for medical treatment, and a state of emergency has been declared at the hospitals.
Balochistan’s top official, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, in a statement expressed serious concern over rocket attacks from the Afghan side of the border, and he directed the local administration to tighten security and protect civilians.
He also directed hospital personnel to provide timely medical treatment to the injured, adding that he hoped the federal government would ensure a quick and effective resolution of the issue at the diplomatic level, the statement added.
This latest incident comes two weeks after firing from the Afghan side killed a Pakistani soldier along the Chaman border. The Bab e Dosti (Friendship Gate) at Chaman remained closed for a week following that incident.
In a separate incident, the two countries clashed in the Parachinar area in the Kurram tribal district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last month, with one Pakistani soldier being killed and nine others, including seven soldiers and two civilians, being wounded by firing from the Afghan side.
According to official figures, about 25 percent of travelers from both countries cross the border at the Friendship Gate, with another 65 percent crossing via Pakistan’s northern city of Torkham. An average of 1,000 cargo trucks cross the border each day.
Islamabad and Kabul have long been involved in a dispute over the precise location of their mutual border, with Afghanistan refusing to accept the so-called Durand Line as the international frontier.
Pakistan claims that the 2,640 kilometer (1,637 mile) border is an international frontier and has erected barbed wire along it, however, there have been some incidents of Taliban fighters removing some stretches of that fencing.