Pakistan’s foreign ministry in a statement on Friday blamed the Afghan security forces for starting a clash on Thursday night at the Spin Boldak crossing in Kandahar that left at least 15 Afghan civilians dead and 80 more wounded.
In the statement, Pakistan's foreign ministry claimed that the Pakistan Forces "did not open fire first and responded in self-defense only."
Afghan officials and eyewitnesses have insisted that Pakistani forces fired first.
A source on Thursday said that Afghan travelers on the Pakistan side of the Chaman crossing in Spin Boldak who were trying to enter Afghanistan were turned away by Pakistani forces, but the Afghans persisted in trying to get through and were fired on by the Pakistani forces, after which Afghan forces on the other side got involved and fired on the Pakistani forces. In retaliation, the Pakistanis fired shells into the Afghanistan territory, hitting Afghan homes.
But Pakistan's foreign ministry said on Friday that Afghan forces "opened unprovoked fire on innocent civilians gathered towards Pakistan" and then “Pakistan troops deployed on the posts were also simultaneously engaged by Afghan posts. Pakistan troops responded to protect our local population and acted only in self-defense. It is reiterated that Pakistan Force did not open fire first and responded in self-defense only,” the Pakistani statement said.
“To de-escalate the situation, the Pakistan side immediately activated both military and diplomatic channels and it was after hectic efforts that the firing was stopped from Afghan side,” the statement said.
But the Kandahar Police Chief Gen. Tadeen Khan said the firing in Spin Boldak district was started by the Pakistani forces, after which Afghan forces responded. "The clash started and then the center ordered (us) to stop firing… Then they (Pakistani forces) started shelling mortars on people’s houses.”
The Pakistani statement also said: "The borders with Afghanistan were opened for pedestrian movement and trade" and people gathering for Eid were "deliberately targeted by Afghan forces for incomprehensible reasons."
Pakistan's foreign ministry claimed that the "unfortunate incident resulted in numerous casualties and deliberate/serious damage to state infrastructure," and it acknowledged the casualties on the Afghan side: "There were, reportedly, unfortunate losses on the Afghan side as well. All this could have been avoided if fire had not been initiated from the Afghan side.”
“Pakistan reiterates its sincere readiness to further enhance fraternal relations with Afghanistan in the interest of peace and stability in the region. We hope our constructive efforts will be reciprocated,” concluded the statement.
But the Pakistani shelling on Afghan residential areas has reportedly caused over a dozen deaths and wounded nearly 100, according to local officials.
Bahir Ahmadi, the spokesman for Kandahar's governor, said that 15 people were killed in an attack by Pakistani forces on Spin Boldak, adding that women and children are among the victims. "At least 80 others have been wounded,” he added.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense said at least nine civilians were killed and 50 others were wounded in the Pakistani forces artillery attacks on “residential areas” in Spin Boldak district during the incident.
The Afghan Army’s Chief of Staff Gen. Yasin Zia directed all Army corps, including Atal 205, Selab 201 and Thunder 203 to get ready for similar actions against Pakistani forces and to equip Afghan troops who are stationed along the Durand Line, the statement said.
The Afghan Air Force and the special forces were ordered to stay alert for similar actions against Pakistani forces, the statement added.
The National Security Council in a statement said the Afghan government will follow the issue through relevant channels and will make the required action.