Afghan forces launch offensive to retake Spin Boldak

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Kandahar

Afghan forces launched an attack on Taliban fight-ers in Spin Boldak on Friday in a bid to retake the country’s border crossing with Pakistan, as the group tightens its grip in the north and battles for the stronghold of an infamous warlord.

The battle at the southern border follows weeks of intensifying fighting across Afghanistan, with the Taliban pressing multiple offensives and overrun-ning dozens of districts at a staggering rate.

The group have also gobbled up other vital border crossings in the north and west. Following fierce fighting on Thursday evening, dozens of Taliban fighters were wounded.

“We have suffered one death and dozens of our fighters have got injured,” Mullah Muhammad Has-san, who identified himself as a Taliban member, told AFP.

Residents of Spin Boldak, which fell to the Taliban on Wednesday, said the group and the army had been locked in vicious street fighting in the main bazaar of the border town. “There is heavy fighting,” said Mohammad Zahir.

The fight for the border comes as the Taliban also closed in on the stronghold of long-time foe Abdul Rashid Dostum in the north, with the group’s spokesman saying the warlord’s militia forces had fled Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan province.

The group had “captured the gate” of the city, Tali-ban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a WhatsApp message, adding: “Dostum’s militia left the city and fled towards the airport.”

The deputy governor of Jowzjan confirmed that the Taliban had reached the gates of the provincial capi-tal, but said government forces were pushing back against the militants.—AFP

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