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Pakistan Reopens Afghan Border         05/27 09:31

   QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani authorities reopened the main Chaman 
border crossing at Afghanistan's request after shutting it down earlier this 
month when the two sides traded fire there, killing 15 people on both sides, 
the military said Saturday.

   The move comes on the first day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in 
Pakistan. In a statement, the Pakistani military said the border was reopened 
Saturday on "humanitarian grounds." Kabul welcomed the decision.

   The statement said Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to maintain a 
ceasefire in the border town of Chaman, where nine Pakistanis and six Afghans 
were killed on May 5. Pakistan says the violence began when Afghan forces 
opened fire on census workers and troops escorting them. Kabul blames Pakistan 
for initiating the gunfire.

   Mohammad Sharif Gharzi, an official from the Afghan passport department at 
Spin Boldak, said after negotiations between officials from Afghanistan and 
Pakistan the border reopened around 4 p.m. local time on Saturday.

   "We welcome the opening of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan at 
Spin Boldak," said Gharzi.

   He added that given the pressure on locals of fasting during Ramadan, this 
was "great news for all".

   Pakistan shares a 2,200-kilometer- (1,375 mile-) long porous border with 
Afghanistan.

   Also Saturday, a Pakistani oil tanker driver was killed when his vehicle was 
hit by a mortar round fired by the Iranian border force in the Panjgur area of 
the southwestern Baluchistan province bordering Iran, said Abdul Jabbar, an 
administrator in the district.

   Abdul Jabbar said the incident would be raised at the upcoming flag meeting 
of border officials from both countries.


(KA)

 
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