The Taliban on Wednesday claimed they had captured the strategic border crossing of Spin Boldak along the frontier with Pakistan, continuing sweeping gains made since foreign forces stepped up their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“The Mujahideen have captured an important border town called Wesh in Kandahar,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson in a statement.
“With this, the important road between (Spin) Boldak and Chaman and Kandahar customs have come under Mujahideen control,” he said. Mujahid assured traders and residents there that their “security is guaranteed”.
However, the Afghan interior ministry insisted the attack had been repelled and government forces had control.
Meanwhile, when contacted for a comment, Chaman Assistant Commissioner Arif Kakar told Dawn.com that security was on high alert. "The Friendship Gate at the Chaman border has been closed," he said. No comment has been made so far from Pakistan regarding the capturing of the crossing.
The situation on the ground could not immediately be verified, but according to AFP, social media was abuzz with pictures of Taliban fighters looking relaxed in what appeared to be the frontier town.
The taking of Spin Boldak would be the latest in a string of border crossings and dry ports seized by the Taliban in recent weeks.
Its seizure follows days of heavy fighting across Kandahar province, where the government was forced to deploy commando fighters to prevent the fall of the provincial capital even as the insurgents inched closer to taking the frontier crossing.
Afghan officials insisted they still had control.
“The terrorist Taliban had some movements near the border area [...] The security forces have repelled the attack,” interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian told AFP.
Residents disputed the Afghan government's claims.
“I went to my shop this morning and saw that the Taliban are everywhere. They are in the bazaar, in police HQ and custom areas. I can also hear the sound of fighting nearby,” said Raz Mohammad, a shopkeeper who works near the border.