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Two Killed In Border Clash Between Afghan Taliban And Pakistani Guards; Border Crossing Closed

The border crossing at Spin Boldak is an important transit hub for trucks moving fruit and produce exports from Kandahar. (file photo)

Two people were killed and 13 others wounded in a clash between the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani forces in the southern Afghan border town of Spin Boldak, health officials in Kandahar told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi on February 24.

A spokesman for the Taliban governor in Kandahar, Mahmoud Azzam, confirmed the clash between Afghan Taliban border guards and Pakistani forces in Spin Boldak but gave no further details.

An official at the Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar, who wished to remain anonymous, told Radio Azadi that two bodies and 13 wounded people, including civilians and Taliban insurgents, had been brought from the scene.

The situation in the area remains tense and the gate between Spin Boldak and the Chaman crossing is closed, according to local people who spoke with RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. The crossing is an important transit hub for trucks moving fruit and produce exports from Kandahar.

Asif Hakimi, a spokesman for the Taliban's police headquarters in Kandahar, told Radio Azadi that fighting broke out after Pakistani forces killed an Afghan civilian in the Shiro Obo area of Spin Boldak district.

“One man was killed, and one man and one woman were wounded on our side," Hakimi said.

Earlier, local sources and eyewitnesses told Radio Azadi a different story, saying the clash broke out when Pakistani forces brutally beat an Afghan child. There was no further information available about the fate of the child.

The sources said the firefight between the two sides lasted hours and most of the casualties were civilians.

Naeem Khan, a resident of Spin Boldak, told Radio Azadi that the civilian casualties on the Afghan side were caused by Kalashnikov fire and mortar shells from Pakistani forces.

"There are civilian dead and wounded -- no news of Taliban casualties. The wounded are mostly people standing on rooftops in the streets. Now people are evacuating their homes from the war zone."

Another eyewitness, who identified himself only as Mahmud, told Radio Azadi that a mortar shell mounted on a truck caused most of the casualties.

"The shooting started, Pakistani troops fired mortars, and a mortar shell hit [the truck] on the Afghan side, injuring several people."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the first shots were fired by Pakistani forces.

"Leaders on both sides have been informed and the situation is now under control," Mujahid added on Twitter.

The Pakistani side has not yet commented.

With reporting by AFP
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