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KABUL:
The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday said they have gained control over an important trade route linking Pakistan with southern Afghanistan, hours after Afghan forces surrendered the critical transit point to the insurgent group.

Afghan government officials were not immediately available to confirm the fall of a town in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar province situated next to the border with Pakistan.

"The Mujahideen have captured an important border town called Wesh in Kandahar, " said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson in a statement.

"With this, the important road between (Spin) Boldak and Chaman and Kandahar customs have come under Mujahideen control," he said.

A member of the Afghan Special Forces directs traffic during the rescue mission of a policeman besieged at a check post surrounded by Taliban, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, July 13, 2021. Picture taken July 13, 2021.REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A member of the Afghan Special Forces directs traffic during the rescue mission of a policeman besieged at a check post surrounded by Taliban, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, July 13, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS.

Afghan government data shows about 900 trucks cross the frontier each day, linking Pakistan with Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian nations.

Shafiqullah Attai, the chairman of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment in capital city of Kabul, said the Taliban in recent weeks have taken control of Islam Qala and Turghundi in Herat province, ShirKhan Bandar in Kunduz and Abu Naser Farahi border port in Farah province.A convoy of Afghan Special Forces is seen during the rescue mission of a policeman besieged at a check post surrounded by Taliban, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, July 13, 2021. Picture taken July 13, 2021.REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A convoy of Afghan Special Forces is seen during the rescue mission of a policeman besieged at a check post surrounded by Taliban, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, July 13, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS.

The Taliban have been swiftly securing all border check posts to fill their coffers with customs revenue instead of it being transferred to the Afghan government exchequer.

"We don't have exact figure on the volume of trade and transit conducted from these ports as they are now with the Taliban... income has started to go to the Taliban," he told Reuters.

Earlier, the Taliban said they had captured Afghanistan's biggest border crossing with Iran, as the insurgents continued a blistering offensive across the country.

"The port of Islam Qala is now under our full control and we will try to put it back in operation today," said Zabihullah Mujahid

Islam Qala is one of the major ports in Afghanistan, through which Kabul conducts most of its official trade with Iran.

It is the second key border crossing the insurgents have captured since they launched a sweeping offensive in early May as US-led foreign forces began their final withdrawal.

Last month the Taliban captured Shir Khan Bandar, Afghanistan's main border crossing with Tajikistan, after fierce fighting that saw hundreds of Afghan troops flee over to the neighbouring country.a

'District centre, police HQ also under siege'

Following the capture of the border crossing, the Taliban spokesperson stated in a tweet that the Spin Boldak district centre and police headquarters of Kandahar province were also completely cleared of the enemy and under the control of the Taliban.

He further stated that they now had possession of numerous weapons, vehicles and ammunition, adding that the Afghan forces were currently under siege at the only remaining base.

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