ANSDF launch offensive to retake Boldak border

DM Monitoring

KANDAHAR: Afghan National Security and Defence Forces (ANSDF) launched an attack on Taliban Fighters in Spin Boldak on Friday in a bid to retake the country’s border crossing with Pakistan, as the group tightens its grip in the north and battles for the stronghold of an infamous warlord.
The battle at the southern border follows weeks of intensifying fighting across Afghanistan, with the Taliban pressing multiple offensives and overrunning dozens of districts at a staggering rate. The group have also gobbled up other vital border crossings in the north and west.
Following fierce fighting on Thursday evening, dozens of Taliban fighters were wounded. “We have suffered one death and dozens of our fighters have got injured,” Mullah Muhammad Hassan, who identified himself as a Taliban member, told media.
Media said Friday one of its photographers had been killed in the Spin Boldak fighting, citing an Afghan army commander. Danish Siddiqui, an Indian national, was part of a team that shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 and had been embedded with Afghan special forces, the agency said.
The Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing has long been an economic lifeline for much of southern Afghanistan. The landlocked country depends on the crucial commercial artery to export much of its agricultural produce, such as almonds and dried fruits, while also serving as the entry point for finished goods coming from Pakistan.
Controlling the border crossing will likely provide the Taliban with an economic windfall, allowing the group to tax the thousands of vehicles that pass through the frontier daily. Residents of Spin Boldak, which fell to the Taliban on Wednesday, said the group and the army had been locked in vicious street fighting in the main bazaar of the border town.
“There is heavy fighting,” said Mohammad Zahir. The fight for the border comes as the Taliban also closed in on the stronghold of long-time foe Abdul Rashid Dostum in the north, with the group’s spokesman saying the warlord’s militia forces had fled Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan province. The group had “captured the gate” of the city, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a WhatsApp message, adding: “Dostum’s militia left the city and fled towards the airport.” The deputy governor of Jowzjan confirmed that the Taliban had reached the gates of the provincial capital, but said govt forces were pushing back against the militants.