At least two killed in skirmishes between Afghan, Iran border forces

A Taliban fighter stands guard at the entrance gate of Afghan-Iran border crossing bridge in Zaranj, February 18, 2022. — AFP
  • Taliban forces started shooting with all kinds of weapons: Iranian official.
  • Afghanistan doesn’t not want a war with its neighbour: Taliban spox.
  • Ties between the two have been recently tense over a water dispute.

At least two people were killed on Saturday in clashes between Taliban and Iranian forces at the Afghan-Iran border, Taliban and Iranian authorities said.

Iranian news agency Mehr reported one Iranian border guard was killed in the clashes.

“In the clash, one person was killed on each side and many were injured,” Taliban’s interior ministry spokesperson Abdul Nafy Takor said in a tweet about the incident in the southwestern province of Nimroz.

“The matter has been brought into the notice of the leaders on both sides and now the situation is under control. The Islamic Emirate does not want a war with its neighbour,” the spokesperson added.

The deputy head of the Iranian police force, Qassem Rezaee, was quoted by state-run IRNA as saying that “Taliban forces started shooting with all kinds of weapons” at an Iranian police station in Sistan-Baluchistan province.

Tasnim news agency reported that “light and semi-light weapons and artillery were used in the clashes”.

Even though Tehran and Kabul are bound by diplomatic relations, the Islamic republic of Iran does not recognise Afghanistan’s Kabul government, and ties between the two have been recently tense over a water dispute.

Last week, Iran demanded that Afghanistan respect its “water rights”, charging that an upstream river dam there is restricting the flow into a lake that straddles their common border.

During a visit on May 18 to drought-parched southeastern Iran, President Ebrahim Raisi said: “I warn the rulers of Afghanistan to immediately give the people of Sistan-Baluchistan their water rights.”

The Helmand River flows from the mountains of the central Afghan province of the same name for more than 1,000 kilometres into Lake Hamoun, which straddles the Afghanistan-Iran border.

Afghanistan has blamed climatic factors for reduced river volumes.

Iran maintains that the country’s share was legally defined in a 1973 agreement between the two sides and demands that Taliban leaders uphold the deal, and last week it said Tehran “reserves” the right to take action to settle the dispute.

On the same day as the border clashes, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi in Kabul where the two discussed “coordinated management of the border”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Assuring Iran’s rights in the waters of Helmand river” was also discussed, it said.

— With additional input from AFP

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