KABUL (Reuters): The Afghan Taliban criticised the closure of its main border crossing with Pakistan this week after clashes between security forces, saying the halt in trade would see heavy losses for businesses.
The busy Torkham border crossing closed on Wednesday after Pakistani and Afghan Taliban forces started firing at each other, according to local officials.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan deems the closure of Torkham gate and opening of fire on Afghan security forces by the Pakistani side contrary to good neighbourliness,” Taliban administration’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late on Saturday.
The statement said the incident had started after Pakistani security forces fired at Afghan Taliban forces fixing an old security outpost near the border. Pakistan’s foreign office did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Hundreds of trucks laden with goods have been halted and traders have complained that trade is affected.
“The closure of Torkham gate can adversely affect bilateral and regional trade, and cause trade and financial losses to common mercantile class on both sides,” the statement said, adding many travellers were also stuck on each side of the border.
Disputes linked to the 2,600 km (1,615 mile) border have been a bone of contention between the neighbours for decades.
WHAT HAD ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
The main point of transit for travellers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan, Torkham border crossing, was closed on Wednesday as security forces from both countries exchanged fire, security sources said.
Local residents reported the sound of gunfire by the Torkham crossing and said people around the busy border area near the Khyber Pass had fled once the firing started.
Security officials from the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Taliban and Pakistani forces had exchanged fire but there had not yet been any casualties.
The crossing has been closed several times in recent years, including a closure in February that saw thousands of trucks laden with goods stranded on each side of the border for days.