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40 Injured as Protests in Chaman Turn Violent

On Thursday, tensions escalated in Chaman as protesters, angered by the arrest of their sit-in leaders, launched attacks on government buildings and installations, demanding their immediate release. The unrest resulted in at least 40 injuries, including 17 security officials, and effectively shut down the city as protesters staged rallies and demonstrations.

The leaders’ arrests stemmed from a months-long sit-in against the government’s decision to require valid passports and visas for crossing the Chaman border. Previously, Pakistanis and Afghans could cross using their respective identity cards.

Clashes began when protesters attempted to block major roads, including the national highway linking Quetta with Kandahar, disrupting traffic with barricades. In response, local administration and security forces, including police, Levies, and Frontier Corps personnel, used tear gas to disperse the mob and cleared the highway.

During the protests, demonstrators also targeted the Deputy Commissioner Office complex, throwing stones at the building and forcibly closing shops on Mall Road and other business centers, even beating some shopkeepers with sticks. According to local officials, the protesters disrupted communication systems and attempted to cut power supplies to the Frontier Corps (FC) fort.

At the FC headquarters, protesters hurled stones, prompting security officials to fire blank shots and use tear gas. Shahid Rind, a spokesman for the Balochistan government, confirmed that 17 security personnel were injured, with a policeman receiving a bullet wound in his hand. Over 20 protesters sustained rubber bullet injuries, with some being transferred to the district hospital in Chaman and six to Quetta for treatment. Dr. Rasheed of the district hospital reported receiving 13 people hit by rubber bullets.

Law enforcement agencies arrested over four dozen protesters for attacking security forces and government buildings, with 56 people taken into custody from various areas of Chaman. Additional security personnel were deployed in the border town.

Asghar Achakzai, a local journalist, described the town as resembling a battlefield during the clashes. Disrupted internet services over the past two days complicated reporting efforts.

By late evening, tribal elders and political leaders led by Mufti Qasim and Muhammad Hasan mediated negotiations with Chaman Deputy Commissioner Athar Abbas Raja, leading to the dispersal of protesters and normalization of the situation. However, protest leader Molvi Abdul Manan vowed to continue demonstrations until the release of the seven arrested leaders and other detained individuals.

In response to the uncertainty in Chaman and the ongoing protests, the Balochistan government decided to open the Badini border crossing in Qila Saifullah district for trade with Afghanistan. An official notification stated that while the Badini crossing has been used for repatriating illegal foreign nationals, it is yet to be fully utilized for trade. The notification also instructed the chief collector of Balochistan Customs and the FIA’s provincial director to take concrete measures in this regard.

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