Officials: China Closes Borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan
China has closed its borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan and two central Asian nations, local officials told AFP Monday amid increasing fears of impending US military strikes.
An official with the para-military People's Armed Police in the Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county in westernmost Xinjiang region said the border with Afghanistan had been sealed off since the weekend and remained shut.
The head official of the county, who gave his surname as Zhang, said the borders with the two countries as well as those with the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan further north, had been closed since Friday.
However, a customs official at the Kunjirap Daban border station on the Chinese-Pakistani frontier said the frontier had been closed Saturday and Sunday but had reopened Monday.
A Pakistani diplomat in Beijing said he had not heard any reports about border closures.
None of the officials contacted by AFP wanted to speculate about the reason why the borders had been sealed off and China's foreign ministry said it had no immediate information about the subject.
The apparent decision to seal its western frontiers with the four nations comes amid speculation the United States is planning military strikes to retaliate for last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Chief suspect Osama bin Laden is based in Afghanistan, triggering fears US military action could set off large numbers of refugees flooding into neighboring countries.
Iran announced Saturday it was closing its 900-kilometer border with Afghanistan to block an influx of refugees
But reports of a similar move by Pakistan have been denied by Pakistani military spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi.
"There is no order regarding the sealing of the Afghan borders as we already don't allow anyone to cross the border without travel documents," he told AFP -- BEIJING (AFP)
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