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Pakistani civilians, Afghan soldier killed in cross-border fighting

Cross-border shelling and gunfire between Afghanistan and Pakistan have killed six Pakistani civilians and one Afghan soldier, officials on both sides say.

The incident occurred on Sunday with each side accusing the other of starting the fighting.

Reuters quotes the Pakistan army as saying Afghan border forces had opened “unprovoked and indiscriminate fire of heavy weapons including artillery/mortar on to the civilian population” at the Chaman border crossing, which links Pakistan’s western Balochistan province with Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province.

Six civilians were killed and 17 wounded on the Pakistani side by Afghan fire, leading Pakistani troops to respond, the Pakistan military said in a statement.

Pakistani Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif said the killings “deserve the strongest condemnation”.

“The Afghan interim government should ensure that such incidents are not repeated,” he said in a statement.

But Haji Zahid, a spokesman for Kandahar’s governor, said the fighting began after Pakistan objected to Afghan forces building a new checkpoint.

Writing by Tony Okerafor