KABUL: Taliban authorities said on Thursday that Iranian forces had suffered at least nine casualties during clashes on the Afghanistan-Iran border after fuel smuggling attempts from the Iranian side.
Fighting between the two countries’ respective security forces broke out in Konjak, Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday at around midday, and continued until the late evening. Local authorities and witnesses said the Taliban seized three Iranian check posts.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the clashes were triggered by “a misunderstanding at the local level” and that “the situation is now under control with the understanding of both sides.”
The spokesperson for the governor of Nimroz, Salahudin Ayobi, told Arab News tensions had been resolved and the “misunderstanding” had been over fuel smuggling.
“The main issue of this misunderstanding was smuggling fuel to Afghanistan. During this battle at least nine Iranian border forces were killed and injured,” he said, adding that one Taliban fighter was wounded.
Iranian authorities did not confirm the numbers.
Qiam Mawlawi, a Taliban commander in the Konjak district of Nimroz, said the clash was prompted by the Iranians.
“We responded to their misbehavior,” he said. “Currently the situation has turned back to normal, but we are on standby.”
While Iranian media reported the fighting started following a dispute among residents and denied the capture of border check posts, locals said Taliban forces had crossed the border into Iran.
“The Taliban were able to capture Borjak, Melak and Shah Balak check posts from Iranian forces, and heavy (gun)fire (took place) between both sides,” Abdul Satar, Konjak resident, told Arab News.
Sabrina Zory, a civil activist in Nimroz, said the clashes started when Taliban forces stopped a fuel tanker crossing through Borjak. “
After the fighting began, (the) Taliban entered Iranian soil, and the Taliban fighters were able to capture three (Iranian) check posts,” she said. “According to the reports from the local Taliban who participated in this cross-border fighting, five Iranian border police were killed.”
Iran was among the few countries to keep its embassy in Kabul open after the Western-backed administration collapsed in mid-August, leading to the Taliban seizing control of the country.
Tension on the border between the two, an active smuggling and human trafficking route, has been a long-standing issue.