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Iran exchanges heavy gunfire with Taliban on Afghan border, escalating tensions over water rights

In this photo taken on February 18, 2022 a Taliban flag (L) and an Iranian flag wave at the zero point of Afghan-Iran border crossing bridge in Zaranj. The Taliban and Iran exchanged heavy gunfire near the border on May 27, 2023.
Wakil Kohsar | Afp | Getty Images

The Taliban and Iran exchanged heavy gunfire Saturday on the Islamic Republic's border with Afghanistan, killing and wounding troops while sharply escalating rising tensions between the two countries amid a dispute over water rights.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted the country's deputy police chief, Gen. Qassem Rezaei, accusing the Taliban of opening fire first Saturday morning on the border of Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province and the Afghan province of Nimroz. IRNA said Iran inflicted "heavy casualties and serious damage."

From the Taliban's view, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor accused Iran of shooting first. Takor said the firefight killed two people, one from each country, and wounded others. He described the situation as now being under control.

IRNA, quoting Iranian police, said two border guards had been killed. However, that number may be higher. The semiofficial, English-language newspaper Tehran Times said the fighting killed three Iranian border guards. IRNA said the Milak border crossing with Afghanistan, a major trade route, was closed until further notice over the gunfight.