Civilians flee fighting in Panjshir Valley

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Scores of civilians have fled fighting in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley after an insurgent group launched an offensive against Taliban forces, residents said Saturday.

The National Resistance Front were the last to hold out against the Taliban’s takeover of the country last year by retreating to the valley.

Headed by the son of late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, NRF forces last week announced an offensive against the Taliban — their first since the militants seized power in August.

Both sides claim to have killed dozens of each other’s fighters in recent days.

“We could only pick up one or two items of clothing,” Lutfullah Bari told AFP, saying he fled with dozens of families.

“Like us… (the families) are now living with their relatives in different areas of Kabul,” he added. Farid Ahmad, a father-of-10, said he left his district with several other people because of fighting. Another civilian, Aimal Rahimi, said people “are afraid and escaping to save their lives”. Taliban commanders in Panjshir however told AFP the fighting had stopped.

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