Afghan security forces deployed near Spin Boldak on the Pakistani border on July 14. The Taliban have taken control of a crucial passage between the two countries | Photo: EFE / EPA / M. SADIQ
Taliban militants in Afghanistan claim to have taken control of a major border crossing point with Pakistan as they advance through the country as US troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
A video released by activists on Wednesday (14) shows the group’s flag instead of the Afghan flag on the crossing, called Portal da Amizade, in the town of Spin Boldak, on the border between the two countries, in front of the Pakistani city of Shaman. It is one of the main crossing points and trade routes between the two Asian countries.
“After two decades of brutality by Americans and their puppets, this portal and the Spin Boldak neighborhood have been captured by the Taliban,” an activist said on camera, according to a Reuters translation.
The Taliban flag (blank) is hoisted on the Afghan side of the Pakistani border at the Friendship Gate, a major crossing point between the two countries, July 14 | EFE / EPA / AKHTER GULFAM
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that the district is “completely under the control” of the group and that “a large number of weapons, vehicles and ammunition” are in the hands of the fighters.
However, the Afghan interior minister said government forces had stopped the group’s attack and were in control of the area. Pakistani authorities have already reported to Al Jazeera that their side of the border is closed to passage between Chaman and Spin Boldak and that no one is allowed to cross on either side. These local officials told the newspaper that the Taliban presence on the Pakistani border is visible and that there are no government security forces on the Afghan side.
Taliban fighters arrived in the town of Spin Boldak in Kandahar province on Tuesday evening and attacked several Afghan soldiers, who surrendered immediately, according to reports in the international press. In the early hours of Wednesday, in a fight that reportedly left at least four Afghan soldiers dead and eight wounded Taliban militants, the Islamic militant group seized control of the city and the Afghan side of the stretch of border between Chaman and Spin Boldak. .
It is the latest in a series of Taliban offensives to conquer territory since US troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan in May. Large areas of the country have been conquered by the radical Islamist group, including other border posts with Turkmenistan and Iran, whose control is a lucrative source of resources for the group.
Gaining the passage to Pakistan is also of strategic importance, as it facilitates access to the region of Balochistan, which is home to many Taliban leaders.
Many fighters are recruited by the Taliban in this Pakistani region. A fighter in the group told the Guardian he was told “dozens of people in the Chaman border area of Pakistan are ready to join the Taliban to fight jihad and take control [a capital afegã] Kabul, but they can’t do it because the border is closed on the Pakistani side. “