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Afghanistan, Pakistan reopen key border crossing

DIGEST-ENG-22-08-2020-Afg

After a six-month closure, Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday resumed cross-border movement of passengers on the busy Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing point, officials confirmed.

The agreement was reached following a meeting between border commissioners from both sides of the disputed Durand Line land border, the office of the governor of Kandahar province bordering Pakistan said.

The two neighbors agreed to resume non-stop movement of goods and passengers on the key crossing point from Friday onward, it added.

Pakistan’s Business Recorder daily reported that the Bab-e-Dosti Gate (Friendship Gate) at Chaman border will remain open for seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (0300-1200GMT).

Months of closure of this key route due to the coronavirus pandemic led to a protest by travelers and traders and subsequent shelling by border troops, resulting in death of at least 15 civilians earlier this month.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry condemned the alleged shelling by Pakistani border forces on Aug. 1 and called for a serious investigation into the incident that reportedly took place in the Spin Boldak district in Kandahar on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

In a statement, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry claimed that Pakistani forces “did not open fire first and responded in self-defense only.” Islamabad claimed that people had tried to cross the Chaman-Spin Boldak border forcibly after a protest against crossing restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.