People wave Taliban flags after the Taliban claimed they had captured the Afghan side of the Spin Boldak border. AFP
Taliban on Wednesday said they have gained control over an important trade route linking Pakistan with southern Afghanistan, continuing sweeping gains made since foreign forces stepped up their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The situation on the ground could not immediately be verified as no government officials were available to confirm the fall of a town in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar province situated next to the Durand Line border with Pakistan.
Afghanistan's interior ministry denied the report even as social media was abuzz with pictures of Taliban fighters looking relaxed in the frontier town.
According to a Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, “The Mujahideen have captured an important border town called Wesh in Kandahar.
"With this, the important road between (Spin) Boldak and Chaman and Kandahar customs have come under Mujahideen control," he said.
Spin Boldak is the latest in a string of border crossings and dry ports seized by the Taliban in recent weeks, with the insurgents looking to choke off much-needed revenue from the government in Kabul while also filling their own coffers.
Meanwhile, Russia has urged Afghanistan and the Taliban to start meaningful negotiations on forming a transitional coalition government before it is too late, the RIA news agency cited Russia's foreign ministry as saying on Wednesday.
A Taliban delegation in Moscow last week said that the group controlled more than 85 per cent of territory in Afghanistan — an assertion dismissed by the government – and told Russia it would not let the country be used as a platform to attack others.
The Taliban deny harbouring Pakistani militants, but are also infuriated by a fence Islamabad is erecting along their 2,700-kilometre (1,600-mile) border, drawn up in colonial times and known as the Durand Line.
An Afghan Taliban delegation will visit Pakistan on Wednesday, the insurgent group said, the latest stop on a tour of regional powers after an Afghanistan peace process broke down.
Qureshi spoke at the opening of the so-called "troika plus" meeting, which included Thomas West, the new US special envoy for Afghanistan. The delegates also met Thursday with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
The latest development comes a day after Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif made an unannounced visit to Kabul, where he met with senior Taliban officials, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs.
Citing the confessional statement, the investigators said he had taken his children on a motorbike to Lulliyani Canal in District Kasur. He asked his children to pose for a selfie, but suddenly, he pushed them into the canal.
At least ten people were killed in India's state of Sikkim and 82 others, including 23 army personnel, were missing after heavy rainfall caused the glacial Lhonak lake to overflow, spurring catastrophic flooding in the region on Wednesday, officials said.
Abu Dhabi Police pointed out that the entrances, including Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Sheikh Khalifa Bridge, Mussafah Bridge and Maqta Bridge are not allowed to use during morning rush hours only by large buses transporting workers.