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May 8, 2017

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Over 50 Afghan troops killed, five check posts destroyed

Over 50 Afghan troops killed, five check posts destroyed

QUETTA: The army on Sunday said it had killed more than 50 Afghan soldiers in a clash on the Chaman border crossing two days ago.The skirmish took place on Friday at the Chaman border that divides the Balochistan province and Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar, as officials were carrying out a census in the area.

"We are not pleased to tell you that five Afghan check posts were completely destroyed -- more than 50 of their soldiers were killed and over 100 were wounded," Major General Nadeem Ahmed, head of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), told reporters in Chaman.

"We are not happy for their losses but we were forced to retaliate," he said, adding that two Pakistani soldiers were martyred and nine wounded in the incident. Kabul quickly denied the claim. "Very false claims by a Pakistani Frontier Corps that as many as 50 Afghan soldiers lost their lives in Pak (Pakistan) retaliation; totally rejected," tweeted Sediq Sediqqi, a government spokesman.

Samim Khpalwak, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, instead said two troops were lost in the attack, in addition to the death of a civilian. The border has remained closed since Friday, with Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Amir Riaz telling reporters on Sunday that it would remain so "until Afghanistan changes its behaviour". He said the Pakistan Army had to destroy the Afghan posts after the Afghan forces attempted to enter Pakistan.

“Anyone who tries to make Pakistan's territory disputed will face similar consequences,” Amir Riaz said in Chaman. The commander said attempts to enter Pakistan were a foolish mistake, which was not beneficial to both the countries. He also visited those injured in the attack at the Chaman Civil Hospital.

Sharing details and background of the skirmish, Major General Nadeem Ahmed said the Afghan commanders were responsible for the incident. “We had informed them about our census activity,” he said, adding that they carried out the census in the areas situated within the Pakistani border.

The FC chief said census was held in Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir for four days till April 29 when they started to hinder the process. “But we were restrained so that peace was not disrupted,” he said. The next day a meeting between the border forces was held where the Afghan authorities told their Pakistani counterparts to resume the census process after three to four days, he said. “We informed them but our positive attitude was abused,” he added.

Nadeem Ahmed said the Afghan forces entered villages on Pakistan’s side and used locals as human shields so that they could take position for attacks. However, he said, the FC personnel started the operation on May 4 and by May 5 retook control of the area. “We could have done this earlier but we knew civilians reside in the villages on the border,” he said, adding that ceasefire was ordered on May 5 on the Afghan request.

Nadeem Ahmed said the enemy should not underestimate Pakistan’s strength and warned that no one would be allowed to enter the Pakistani territory. He said they used light weapons but warned that any further firing by Afghan forces would be responded to with heavy weapons. He made it clear that there could be no debate on international border and border violations would not be allowed. He said the political leadership of Pakistan had come out with statement of collusion between India and Afghanistan to create problems for Pakistan.

On the other hand, there are reports that a four-kilometre zone adjacent to the Chaman border has been declared no-go area with all kinds of movement banned by the Pakistan Army. Camps have been established five kilometres away from the border for the locals of several villages who have evacuated their homes, where they are being provided relief goods and other necessary items. 

Meanwhile, the Pakistan and Afghan military authorities decided to determine geographical boundaries of their areas during the third flag meeting at Bab-e-Dosti border on Sunday. The Pakistani delegation was led by FC Commander North Sector Brigadier Nadeem Sohail and Afghanistan’s delegation was headed by Colonel Muhammad Sharif.

The meeting was also attended by Pakistan and Afghanistan's geological survey teams. During the meeting, geological experts decided that survey of Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir will be conducted. They mutually agreed upon using Google and geological maps to conduct the survey. 

After the survey is completed, a report will be sent to Islamabad and Kabul. The decision to open the border will also be made once the survey is completed, the meeting participants decided. The meeting, which lasted for more than two hours, also discussed other issues pertaining to the Pakistan and Afghanistan border.  

 

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