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Pakistan Reopens Afghan Border Crossing Seized by Taliban Militants
By Staff, Agencies
Pakistan has reopened a major southwestern border crossing that is currently under the control of the Taliban militant group in Afghanistan, allowing over 100 trucks carrying goods to cross into the conflict-ridden country.
Pakistani customs officials said the Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing was reopened on Monday after it had been closed by Pakistan for commercial traffic since fierce fighting broke out between the Taliban militants and Afghan government forces earlier this month.
"Pakistan has opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman today and resumed Afghan Transit Trade which was suspended since the last one month," Arif Kakar, a senior official of the Chaman border district, told Reuters.
Kakar said the key port would remain open six days a week.
Two Pakistani customs officials, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that the reopening came after the government in Islamabad was pressed by traders to let trucks pass through the crossing as the goods they were carrying would perish.
Spin Boldak is the latest in a string of border crossings seized by the militants in recent weeks as they look to choke off revenues needed by Kabul.
The reopening came hours after 46 Afghan soldiers sought refuge in Pakistan after losing control of military positions further north along the border following advances by Taliban.
Hundreds of Afghan soldiers and civil officials have fled to neighboring Tajikistan and Pakistan in recent weeks after Taliban offensives in border areas.
The Taliban claims to have seized control of 90% of Afghanistan's borders, following their offensives across the country amid withdrawal of American forces.
US-led foreign forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan after two decades of war and occupation.
The United States and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext that the Taliban militants were harboring al-Qaeda, which had just been blamed for the "9/11 attacks" in the US. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but it worsened the security situation in the country.
The Taliban militants are now intensifying operations. Many blame the foreign forces for instability in the country.
Over the past months, Afghan forces have been engaged in fierce clashes with the Taliban to reclaim the lost territories and restore relative calm across the country.
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