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Iran Says Border Guards Clashed With Afghan Taliban

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FILE - A watchtower between Afghanistan and Iran is pictured at the Milak border crossing Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran, Sept. 8, 2021. (Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters)

Iranian border guards clashed Sunday with the Afghan Taliban, Iranian media reported, the latest cross-border exchange since the former insurgents seized power in neighboring Afghanistan a year ago.

The official IRNA news agency quoted Meisam Barazandeh, governor of the border country of Hirmand in eastern Iran, as saying that the incident is under investigation. He did not provide details about the clash or report any casualties.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

Iran's semiofficial Tasnim news agency, which is close to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, said the Taliban opened fire on houses on the eastern edge of the county, in the area of Shoqalak, across the border from Afghanistan's Nimruz province.

The report said also that Taliban forces tried to raise the Taliban flag in an area that is not part of the territory of Afghanistan and that after the exchange, calm returned.

Tasnim later quoted Majid Mirahmadi, the country's deputy interior minister, as saying the Taliban first opened fire on Iranian guards, forcing them to return fire until the exchange subsided when the Iranian guards brought the situation under control.

The exchange lasted for an hour and a half and ended early on Sunday afternoon.

Mirahmadi also said a similar clash took place on Saturday because the Taliban do not respect the "geographical and official border" between the two countries.

Clashes have repeatedly erupted between Iranian security forces and Afghan Taliban forces in various spots along the border since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan last August. The exchanges of fire are often over local issues such as disputes over farmland, water or smuggling, and usually end quickly.

In some of the worst clashes, last December, the Afghan Taliban seized several checkpoints on the Iranian side but soon withdrew, and both sides called the incident a "misunderstanding."

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