AKIPRESS.COM - The Taliban has captured Afghanistan’s main border crossing with Tajikistan, an Afghan provincial official and army officer said on Tuesday, with some security forces abandoning their posts and fleeing across the frontier, Aljazeera reported.
The seizure of Shir Khan Bandar, in the far north of Afghanistan about 50km (30 miles) from Kunduz city, is the most significant gain for the Taliban since it stepped up operations on May 1 when the US began the final stages of its troop withdrawal.
“Unfortunately this morning and after an hour of fighting the Taliban captured Shir Khan port and the town and all the border check posts with Tajikistan,” said Kunduz provincial council member Khaliddin Hakmi.
An army officer told the AFP news agency: “We were forced to leave all check posts … and some of our soldiers crossed the border into Tajikistan.
“By the morning, they (Taliban fighters) were everywhere, hundreds of them,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the fighters had seized the border crossing across the Pyanj River.
“Our Mujahideen are in full control of Shir Khan Bandar and all the border crossings with Tajikistan in Kunduz,” he told AFP.
Fierce fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces has taken place on the outskirts of three provincial capitals in the northern provinces of Faryab, Balkh and Kunduz provinces in recent days, officials said.
Taliban gains and the steady withdrawal of the remaining 2,500-3,500 US troops and 7,000 NATO forces have lent an urgency to efforts to find a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s protracted conflict.