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Pakistan Closes Key Border Crossing With Afghanistan, Citing COVID-19 Concerns

The Torkham border crossing (file photo)

Pakistan has closed a key border crossing with Afghanistan, without giving a time frame for its reopening.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad announced that the Torkham terminal will be closed starting July 6, until further guidance from the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the body responsible for Pakistan's coronavirus response.

Earlier, the NCOC reported an uptick in new COVID-19 cases over the previous seven days and issued a warning that a fresh wave of the pandemic may hit Pakistan in July.

Pakistan has reported 964,490 confirmed cases, with 22,452 deaths from coronavirus since last year.

The decision to close Torkham in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province comes as the security situation has been worsening in Afghanistan, with the international troops leaving the country and the Taliban rapidly gaining ground.

Pakistan and Afghanistan also accuse each other of hosting terrorist groups that launch attacks on the neighboring country.

In March 2017, Pakistan began fencing off its 2,600-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militant groups and end allegations of cross-border incursions. The fencing work was expected to be completed this month.

Based on reporting by dpa and AP