Afghanistan and Pakistan say 22 die in border clashes


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‘SELF-DEFENCE’

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Afghan forces had opened fire on the crowd. “Pakistan troops responded to protect our local population and acted only in self-defense,” it said, adding that Pakistan immediately activated military and diplomatic channels to deescalate the situation.

However, protesters told Reuters by phone that the Pakistani security forces had opened fire on the crowd first.

The crossing, mostly shut during the COVID-19 pandemic, was briefly opened on Wednesday and had been due to reopen on Thursday to allow nationals of both countries to cross for Eid, which falls on Friday in Afghanistan and Saturday in Pakistan.

When it did not open, a large crowd gathered to protest, and a quarantine center and Pakistani government facility for processing crossings were burned down, the Chaman official said.

People on both sides, with close family and tribal ties, have for decades moved freely across the border. But security and monitoring have tightened recently as both nations have accused each other of providing safe havens for extremists. (Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul, Sarwar Amani in Kandahar, and Gul Yusufzai in Quetta; Writing by Umar Farooq and Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Nick Macfie and Andrew Cawthorne)

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