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KUNDUZ: The Taliban captured Afghanistan's main border crossing with Tajikistan Tuesday, officials said, with security forces abandoning their posts and some fleeing across the frontier. The taking of the far north Shir Khan Bandar, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kunduz city, is the most significant gain for the Taliban since the US began the final stage of its troop withdrawal in May, with peace talks between the insurgents and Kabul deadlocked.

"Unfortunately this morning, and after an hour of fighting, the Taliban captured Shir Khan port and the town and all the border check posts with Tajikistan," Kunduz provincial council member Khaliddin Hakmi told AFP.

Separately, an army officer said: "We were forced to leave all check posts... and some of our soldiers crossed the border into Tajikistan.

"By the morning, they (Taliban fighters) were everywhere; hundreds of them," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the insurgents had seized the border post, on the south bank of the Pyanj River. Shir Khan Bandar is marked by a 700-metre US-funded bridge that opened to great fanfare in 2007 with the aim of boosting trade between the Central Asian neighbours.

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