August 15, 2021, Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Brad Lendon and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 0401 GMT (1201 HKT) August 16, 2021
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4:07 a.m. ET, August 15, 2021

Pakistan seals largest border crossing with Afghanistan

From journalist Zahir Shah Sherazi in Peshawar and CNN's Sophia Saifi

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers stand at the Torkham border crossing on August 3, 2021.
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers stand at the Torkham border crossing on August 3, 2021. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

The border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been “completely sealed” by Pakistani authorities, a senior border official at the Torkham border crossing in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has confirmed to CNN.

The official told CNN that Saturday night, between 9 and 10 p.m. local, all the border transit and administrative offices on the Afghanistan side were “taken over by the Afghan Taliban.”

According to the official, there have been attempts to reach out to the Afghan Taliban but they were stopped by “senior officials” from Islamabad, who are “already in discussions with them.”

Attempts are being made to retrieve Pakistanis who are stuck on the Afghan side of the border. Two other border officials that CNN spoke to confirmed this situation.

The Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan is the busiest entry points between the two countries. 

4:07 a.m. ET, August 15, 2021

Welcome back to live coverage of Afghanistan

We'll bring you the latest developments from the ground in Afghanistan, where the Taliban's rapid gains continued overnight as militants edge closer to Kabul.

  • Several more provincial capitals fell to the Taliban without resistance overnight, including the key cities of Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif, making a total of 24 provincial capitals taken by the group in roughly two weeks.
  • Kabul is now the only major city still in the government's control.
  • The evacuation of US diplomats from the embassy to Kabul airport is ongoing, according to a source with knowledge on the ground in Kabul and another source familiar with the matter.  
  • On Saturday, a US defense official told CNN that “time is of the essence; we don’t have the luxury of time to wait.” 
  • Biden authorized a further 1,000 troops to be deployed to Afghanistan.
  • And Pakistan sealed its largest border crossing with the country, a senior border official confirmed to CNN.