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Pakistan Shuts Another Border Crossing After Shrine Massacre

The friendship gate in Chaman border crossing.
The friendship gate in Chaman border crossing.

Pakistani authorities have shut down a second key border crossing into Afghanistan in the aftermath of a deadly suicide bombing that killed dozens of Sufis worshiping at a popular shrine.

The closing late on February 17 of the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan's southwest Balochistan Province is seen as an effort to pressure Kabul to act against militants who Pakistan says have safe haven in Afghanistan.

A February 16 attack at the Lal Shahbaz Qalander shrine in the city of Sehwan killed 88 people and wounded more than 100. The bombing was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

Pakistan closed the border at the Torkham crossing hours after the bombing, a senior army official said.

Torkham connects Pakistan to Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province and Chaman is located near Spin Boldak in Kandahar.

Pakistani security forces have launched nationwide operations against alleged terrorists since the shrine bombing and claim to have killed more than 100 in that effort.

Media reports say Pakistani troops have targeted camps belonging to Jamaat-ul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, near the Afghan border.

In Kabul, the Afghan government on February 18 summoned Pakistani Ambassador Abrar Hussain to protest recent shelling by Pakistani forces in Afghanistan's eastern provinces.

Kabul reportedly expressed concern over the closure of the Torkham and Chaman border crossings and requested that they be reopened.

Based on reporting by AP and DunyaNews