Deadly border clashes between Pakistan and Afghanistan killed at least seven people and wounded more than 30 others Sunday.
The Pakistani military said in a statement the skirmishes took place in the southwestern border town of Chaman, adjacent to the Afghan province of Kandahar.
The attack killed six Pakistani civilians and injured 17 others, it said.
But Akhtar Mohammad, a senior doctor at the main government hospital in Chaman, told VOA by phone they had received bodies of six civilians and 21 injured. He said that seven people among the injured were “in critical condition” and moved to a hospital in the provincial capital, Quetta.
The military statement said Taliban border security forces had “opened unprovoked and indiscriminate fire of heavy weapons, including artillery/mortars” against Pakistani civilian areas. The statement said Pakistani troops staged a “befitting albeit measured response” against “the uncalled-for aggression but avoided targeting innocent civilians in the area.”
Maulvi Ataullah Zaid, a spokesperson for the governor of Kandahar, told VOA by phone a Taliban border guard was killed and that 10 people, including three Afghan civilians, were wounded on the Afghanistan side.
Sunday’s clashes erupted when Pakistani troops were trying to repair a portion of the border fence on their side, but Taliban forces objected to the effort and subsequent attempts to find a negotiated settlement to the standoff failed, local officials and residents reported.
Afghanistan disputes the nearly 2,600-kilometer former British era demarcation with Pakistan, often sparking border tensions. Islamabad dismisses Kabul’s objections and maintains Pakistan inherited the international frontier when it gained independence from Britain in 1947.
Chaman and the northwestern Torkham border crossing serve as the main transit routes for landlocked Afghanistan for trade between and through Pakistan.
Last month, Pakistan had sealed the Chaman border crossing for all trade and pedestrian movements for a week to protest the killing of a Pakistani security guard by what Islamabad said was an “Afghan terrorist.”
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021 and have mostly relied on Pakistan to generate much-needed revenues for their cash-strapped administration through increased bilateral and transit trade. But tensions stemming from border issues have lately strained ties.