Taliban Reportedly Seize Border Island In Uzbekistan
Over the last 24 hours a border dispute has flared between the Taliban and Uzbekistan. According to local media which recounted a Mazar-i-Sharif police official, 56 residents of the villages of Saripitav and Tokai of the Shurteppa district of Balkh province moved to the border island of Aral Baba on the Amu Darya River to start collecting licorice on 21AUG22. Several Uzbek border guards demanded the civilians leave, to which they responded that the island is part of Afghanistan.
The Uzbek border guards reportedly open fired, killing 3 civilians, wounding 3, and capturing 7 others. The Taliban responded by landing troops on the island, 43 on 21AUG22 and 46 on the night of 22AUG22. There are now approximately 90 militants on the island, with Uzbekistan troops massing. Reports have come in the Uzbek military helicopters have been deployed and have been spotted over flying the island. These islands have been the source of contention for the Uzbeks in the past when drug smugglers were found and killed. However, this would be the most extreme confrontation with the Taliban since they took power in August of 2021 and demanded the deportation of several hundred Afghan National Army aviators and their aircraft flown into Termez when the U.S. withdrew.
There is a single border crossing between the two countries on the Amu Darya near Termez. It is dubbed the friendship bridge after the Soviet Union retreated from Afghanistan and relations between the Taliban and Uzbekistan normalized. The Soviet Union actually used the bridge to not only invade, but also withdraw from the country after their nearly 10 year conflict.