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Clashes Between Border Forces Leave Torkham Border Crossing Closed for 2nd Day

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LAHORE MIRROR — The Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan was closed for a second day on Thursday, leading to a build-up of trucks laden with goods, after clashes between security forces from the two countries.

The busy border crossing had closed on Wednesday after Pakistani and Afghan Taliban forces started firing at each other, according to local officials.

Officials in Pakistan had blamed the other side for starting the midday firefight, which lasted for around two hours and came after the Afghan authorities started building a checkpoint on their side in a prohibited area, close to the main border crossing.

The officials said the Afghan authorities already had a checkpoint in the vicinity, commonly known as the Larram Post, but they started building another post over a small hill without discussing it with the Pakistani side.

They said border security officials had also held a meeting minutes before the crossfire began. However, it could not be ascertained what the meeting’s agenda was and what prompted both countries’ border forces to open fire.

Apart from the FC official, a Customs clearing agent had also been critically injured when he was hit by a speeding vehicle pulling back to safety after the firing started.

Abdul Basir Zabuli, a spokesman for the Taliban-led police in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, where the crossing lies, said today that authorities from both countries were trying to determine the reason for the clash.

Flow of trade disrupted
The Torkham border point is the main point of transit for travellers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan.

Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said hundreds of trucks laden with fruit, vegetables and other goods were stuck due to the closure.

“The traders are suffering heavy losses after the border in Torkham was closed on Wednesday following a firing incident there,” he told Reuters.

The entire flow of trade had been affected and the loading of goods in the southern port of Karachi had been disrupted.

Disputes linked to the 2,600-kilometre border have been a bone of contention between the neighbours for decades.

Blame game
Jamshed Khan, a Customs agent at Torkham, had told Dawn on Wednesday that everyone near the Torkham border crossing immediately vacated their workplaces and ran for cover when the firing started.

He said that it was not clear which side initiated the firing. “First, we heard the sound of firing from small weapons and then heavy weapons were also used from both sides,” he said, adding that the incident caused panic among clearing agents, transporters and ordinary people, with drivers of loaded and empty vehicles trying to flee the troubled spot.

SOURCE: REUTERS