Iran urges Taliban to take action on security of borders after guard shot dead
Iran has urged the Taliban authorities for “serious action” after an Iranian border guard was shot dead in Sistan and Baluchistan on Tuesday.
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The border guard, identified as Mohammad Sayyad, was shot dead in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan on Tuesday night, when a gang of armed thugs entered the area from across the border.
The attackers fled the area immediately after the encounter, which occurred in the Milak area of the Hirmand county of Sistan and Baluchestan.
“Officials in Afghanistan’s acting [Taliban] government are expected to take serious action to clarify the aspects of the issue, punish the perpetrators, and take necessary measures to prevent similar incidents,” Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to Kan’ani, the dimensions of the tragic incident are being investigated by Iranian authorities and the results of the investigation will be announced as soon as they are finalized.
He also offered his condolences to the family of the slain border guard and all other Iranian border guards.
A report in Afghan media earlier on Wednesday claimed that the incident took place when members of the Taliban entered the Iranian territory, after two Afghan boys were allegedly held by Iranian border guards, resulting in clashes between the two sides.
The report, however, has not been confirmed by either the Iranian authorities or their counterparts in Afghanistan.
Taliban officials were quoted as saying by AFP news agency that there had been no clashes between Iranian and Afghan forces near the border.
Mufti Ilham, the director of the department of information and culture in Afghanistan’s Nimruz province, also dismissed the claim.
“There were no border tensions between Iran and Afghanistan, and reports of Iranian border guards clashing with a specific group are all rumors,” Ilham said.
Two other officials in Nimruz also dismissed the rumors, while a third added that the clash between Iranian border guards and thugs took place on Iranian soil, adding that the Silk Bridge, located at a border crossing between Iran and Afghanistan, witnessed no clashes or sound of gunfire from any direction.
Tehran has called for joint efforts with Kabul to secure the joint border areas amid intermittent clashes at Iran-Afghanistan border crossings in recent months.
Iran's foreign ministry in April said the border guards have a responsibility to prevent any illegal trespassing at the border with Afghanistan.
“We are prepared to give the necessary training to the Afghan border guards on the demarcated border and so on,” former spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at the time, adding that the recurrence of border skirmishes is a "matter of grave concern" for Tehran.
After the Taliban laid siege to Kabul on August 15 last year, drawing the curtains on 20-year long foreign military occupation, US and its allies rushed to cut off Afghanistan’s access to international aid and froze nearly 10 billion dollars in assets belonging to the country’s central bank.
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank followed suit. Besides spawning the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history, it also displaced millions of Afghans, forcing them to flee to neighboring countries.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have made their way across the border into Iran in the last six months, negotiating the treacherous terrain and braving enormous risks.
According to international aid organizations, around 4,000 to 5,000 people are streaming into Iran each day, escaping the horrors of poverty and insecurity fueled by the US and its allies.
While many of them come through illegal channels, paying smugglers hefty money, many others have arrived through proper legal channels.
Despite the fact that the Iranian economy has been in a tailspin because of crippling US sanctions, the incoming Afghan refugees have been accorded warm reception and provided necessary facilities. Iran’s assistance to the war-weary Afghan refugees has been largely without any international aid.