The Taliban have gained a lucrative new source of income, taking over the main trade gateway into Tajikistan, and beginning to collect customs revenues, as some of Afghanistan’s neighbors tacitly cooperate with the insurgent group.
The American-built Sher Khan Bandar crossing, north of the city of Kunduz, fell to the Taliban on June 22, with 134 border guards and other Afghan government troops fleeing to neighboring Tajikistan.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the group had reached out to the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan after taking over several border areas in June.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the 38-feet-wide and 2,204-feet-long steel bridge over the Panj river that runs between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in 2007, spending more than $40 million on the crossing and the customs compound.
He said the Taliban and Tajikistan border officials then held a meeting in the middle of the bridge to negotiate how the border would operate.
Unlike Tajikistan, Uzbekistan hasn’t been allowing Afghan military or police personnel to cross the border as they flee from the Taliban.