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Gunfight breaks out along Iran-Afghan border amid rising tensions

Newly recruited Taliban fighters parade in armored vehicles after their graduation ceremony on Sept. 13 in Herat, Afghanistan.  (MOHSEN KARIMI/Getty Images North America/TNS)
German Press Agency

German Press Agency

TEHRAN, Iran – Skirmishes broke out along the border between Iran and Afghanistan on Saturday that reportedly left at least two dead, said IRNA, Iran’s state news agency.

The clashes between Iranian border guards and Afghan Taliban militants come amid rising tensions over climate-related issues between the neighboring countries.

IRNA reported that border officials reacted decisively to a Taliban attack from the Nimruz province.

The militant Islamist Taliban did not comment on the incident.

According to IRNA, two border guards were killed and two civilians injured in the skirmish.

There have been repeated incidents at the border since the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan in the summer of 2021.

Officials from both countries have dismissed previous clashes as misunderstandings. There is no territorial dispute over the course of the 572-mile border.

Recently, however, a heated dispute has broken out over the water carried by the Helmand River, which flows over the border. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi threatened the Taliban government and urged Kabul to honor a decadesold pact on water use that guarantees Iran a minimum annual water supply.

The river, which is more than 621 miles long, is being dammed on the Afghan side in the Helmand province of the same name to generate electricity and irrigate agriculture.

The Taliban said drought and climate change are making it impossible for authorities to get water while leaving enough to flow into the neighboring country.

Just days later, Iran’s IRNA news agency released satellite photos that appeared to contradict the Taliban’s claims.

For years, researchers have been warning of an increase in droughts in the region, which is particularly hard hit by the consequences of climate change.