Three people were killed and 17 others injured in a shooting at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Chaman in Balochistan Province on July 30.
Locals and officials told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that a group of people who have been staging a sit-in at the border over the past several weeks attempted to get closer to a border checkpoint and that some of the protesters set fire to a quarantine center for people affected by the coronavirus.
Border guards then opened fire on the protesters, which resulted in several casualties, eyewitnesses said.
Pakistani and Afghan security forces also exchanged fire, witnesses said.
Participants of the sit-in are mostly local traders and vendors whose businesses depend on the cross-border trade. But there also are Afghans and Pakistanis on either side waiting to cross the border to visit their families for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
The protesters complained that the Pakistani officials refused to open the border.
Afghanistan has announced the celebration of Eid on July 31. Pakistan is celebrating Eid on August 1.
Usman Khan Kakar, a Pakistani senator in the nationalist Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) from Balochistan Province, condemned the incident. He said on Twitter the security forces targeted innocent civilians at Chaman.
Asghar Khan Achakzai, a member of the Balochistan legislature and leader of the Awami National Party from Chaman, told Radio Mashaal late on July 30 that he had telephoned the Afghan officials at the border, after which the two sides stopped firing.
Balochistan Interior Minister Zia Lango told a news conference in Quetta that the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has been closed for security reasons.
He said the recent shooting incident was incited by protesters who entered the red zone and set the coronavirus quarantine center on fire.