Iranian border guards clash with Afghan Taliban

Clashes erupted between Iranian border guards and Taliban forces on Sunday, with the Afghan side confirming that one of their border guards was killed and another wounded, officials said.

Both sides accused each other of being the first to open fire.

“There was a clash between the border guards of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Taliban forces,” said the governor of the Iranian district Khirmand Meisam Barazande, Fars news agency quoted.

He added that “the conflict was brief and ended.”

Fars reported that the clashes took place on the Iranian side of the border, in the Shagalak region of Girmand country, in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.

“Today there was a violation of the border by the Taliban,” Barazande said, adding that “our forces have given the necessary response” and that there are “no casualties” on the Iranian side.

Iranian news agency Tasnim reported that Taliban forces shelled several houses in the town of Dast Mohammad, followed by a firefight “within minutes.”

A statement released by the Afghan provincial information center Nimroz blamed Iranian border guards for the incident.

“Iranian border guards fired at a patrol of our border guards in the Kang district of Nimroz province,” the report says.

“After that, they (Iranian forces) shelled the area with light and heavy weapons. During this shooting, one of our border guards was killed and another was wounded.

Last month, the Iranian Foreign Ministry reported the death of an Iranian border guard in an “incident” at the Afghan border crossing, also in Sistan-Baluchistan.

Iran, like many other countries, has yet to recognize the new government formed by the Taliban after they took power amid the hasty departure of US-led foreign forces in August 2021.

While Iran is pushing for the Taliban to form an inclusive administration, the Islamist movement has formed an all-male cabinet made up entirely of members of the group and almost exclusively of ethnic Pashtuns.

Problems with water rights have also heightened tensions between neighbors.

In January, demonstrators in Sistan-Baluchistan gathered at a border crossing to protest water from the Helmand River.

Tehran has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades, but since the return of the Taliban to power, new people have arrived in the country.

Iran has long had tense relations with the Taliban, who raided Tehran’s consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, killing 10 diplomats and a journalist.

The Taliban said the raid was carried out by a renegade squad acting against orders.