Officials on either side of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have reported at least 22 deaths and multiple injuries after clashes occurred at the border crossing between Spin Boldak (Kandahar province)-Charman (Balochistan province) on Thursday, July 30. The clashes occurred as crowds gathered to cross the border after it was temporarily opened for the Eid al-Adha holiday period, having been closed for two months due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The border was meant to be open for two days from Wednesday, July 29, but was closed on Thursday on the Pakistani side. Those trying to enter from the Afghanistan side reportedly attempted to remove barricades and vandalized a quarantine center and a Pakistani government facility. During the demonstrations Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire, with officials from both sides of the border claiming their troops were fired upon first. The clashes escalated and Pakistani forces fired shells into Afghan territory during the fighting, which reportedly hit civilian targets. Provincial officials in Kandahar reported that 15 people had been killed on the Afghan side of the border during the clashes and at least eighty others injured. Meanwhile, Pakistani hospital officials reported seven deaths and 31 injuries.
Tensions along the border are expected to remain high in the coming days and further clashes cannot be ruled out.
Many people in the region have family and tribal ties on both sides of the border. However, even before the closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, tensions and security along the border have increased in recent years as both nations have accused each other of providing safe havens for extremists.
Individuals in Spin Boldak and surrounding areas are advised to monitor developments, avoid the border area, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
The security environment in Afghanistan remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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