Main Afghan-Pakistani border crossing closed, residents report gunfire

KABUL/PESHAWAR (Reuters) : The main border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan was closed on Monday, officials from the two sides said, and residents in the area reported the sound of gunfire near the normally bustling border transit point.

It was not immediately clear if Afghan or Pakistani authorities closed the Torkham border crossing, near the Khyber Pass, but it comes after relations between Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban and Pakistan have deteriorated sharply.

“The border is closed, we will share details later,” a spokesperson for the Taliban administration’s police force in the eastern Afghan province of Nangahar told Reuters.

Media reported that the border was closed on Sunday evening but did not give a reason. Pakistani military, police and government spokespeople were not immediately available for comment but two Pakistani security officials in the region confirmed that the border had been closed and some gunfire had been exchanged.

Disputes linked to the 2,600 km (1,615 mile) border have been a bone of contention between the neighbours for decades. The Torkham border point is the main point of transit for travellers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan.

Mohammad Ali Shinwari, a resident of Landi Kotal on the Pakistani side, said the border had been closed late on Sunday and gunfire erupted early on Monday.

“When we heard gunshots in the morning, we got worried and believed that troops of the two countries might have started fighting,” he said.

Clashes on the border have occurred for years, during the two-decade rule of Afghanistan’s US-backed government and since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021.

Clashes between Afghan and Pakistani security forces have also at times closed the second most important crossing between the two countries, at Chaman to the south.

Pakistan’s foreign minister told a security conference in Germany on Sunday that the risks of militancy stemming from Afghan soil could affect the world.

A Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson said later Pakistan should raise issues in private and not at public forums.

The foreign ministry said the Taliban administration would not allow its territory to be used against other countries, particularly against its neighbours.