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Iran and Taliban exchange gunfire on Afghan border over water dispute

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Iran and the Taliban exchanged heavy gunfire on Saturday on the border between Iran and Afghanistan, killing at least three people and injuring several others, according to Iranian state media and a Taliban spokesman.

The crash occurred near the Kang district of Nimroz province in Afghanistan, where Iran has accused the Taliban of violating a 1973 treaty by restricting the flow of water from the Helmand River to Iran’s drought-hit eastern regions. The Taliban have denied the accusation and said they respect Iran’s water rights.

The Taliban spokesman for the interior ministry, Abdul Nafi Takor, said that Iranian border forces fired toward Afghanistan, which was met with a counter-reaction. He said one person was killed on each side and several injured, but Iran’s official IRNA news agency later said two Iranian border guards had been killed and two Iranian civilians injured.

Iran’s deputy police chief, Qasem Rezaei, said that the Taliban forces started shooting at the Sasoli checkpoint without observing international laws and good neighbours drawing a decisive response from Iran. Iran’s border guards said they used their superior heavy fire to inflict casualties and serious damage, without giving details.

Following the clash, Iranian authorities closed the Milak – Zaranj border post, a major commercial crossing, until further notice.

The Taliban said they consider dialogue and negotiation to be a reasonable way for any problem and making excuses for war and negative actions is not in the interest of any of the parties.

The incident comes amid rising tensions between Iran and the Taliban over water resources. Earlier this month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned the Taliban not to disregard Iran’s water rights under the 1973 treaty. The Taliban rejected Raisi’s perceived threat, with a former Taliban official mocking Raisi in a video that went viral.

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