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May 27, 10:24 AM EDT

Pakistan reopens Afghan border on 'humanitarian grounds'



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Pakistan reopens Afghan border on 'humanitarian grounds'

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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 Afghanistan. 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.

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Associated Press writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

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