RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
July 31, 2020
Cross-border shelling by Pakistan killed at least 15 civilians in Afghanistan on July 31, prompting Kabul to put its ground and air forces on alert.
The shelling came after clashes between Pakistani and Afghan security forces at the closed Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing, where people were waiting to cross on both sides of the border to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
The Afghan Defense Ministry on July 31 said that the country’s chief of army staff had ordered the armed forces to respond with full force if the artillery attacks by the Pakistani Army continued along a disputed border between the neighboring countries.
Pakistani security officials said a protest against the closure of the border for daily commute turned violent at the Chaman area on the other side of Spin Boldak in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province, but no live ammunition had been used.
However, activists blamed Pakistani security forces for opening fire on protesters and shelling into Afghanistan where people were also protesting.
“If the Pakistani military continues its rocket attacks on Afghan territory, they will face retaliation by the Afghan Army,” Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters that the matter had been taken up with Afghan authorities and hoped it would be resolved amicably.
The 2,430-kilometer-long Afghan-Pakistan border was created in 1893 between then-British India and the Emirate of Afghanistan.
Clashes between neighboring states along the de facto border known as the Durand Line rarely occur, but relations are considered tense.
With reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal, Reuters, and dpa