Taliban claim entering capital of Panjshir

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Large numbers of prisoners captured, vehicles seized

 
Kabul

The Taliban on Sunday said their forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of the Panjshir valley, their latest claim of progress in fighting against opposition forces holding out in the area north of Kabul.

There was no immediate response from the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which groups opposition forces.

It had said earlier the Taliban “propaganda machine” was trying to spread distracting messages and that it had pushed Taliban forces back from another part of the valley.

Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi claimed on Twitter the police headquarters and district centre of Rukhah, adjacent to the provincial capital Bazarak, had fallen, and opposition forces had suffered numerous casualties, with large number of prisoners and captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition.

Fighting was underway in Bazarak, he said. It was not possible to confirm the report, which was echoed on other Taliban Twitter accounts.

Earlier on Sunday opposition spokesman Fahim Dashti claimed Parian district, at the northeastern end of Panjshir, which the Taliban have previously claimed taking, had been cleared and up to 1,000 Taliban had been blocked off and captured. It was not possible to confirm that independently.

“The resistance forces are ready to continue their defence against any form of aggression,” Dashti said.

On Saturday, Italian aid group Emergency said Taliban fighters had reached the trauma hospital it operates in Anabah district, within the Panjshir valley.

Taliban officials have claimed previously their forces had secured full control of Panjshir but fighting has been continuing for days, with each side saying it had inflicted large number of casualties.

On Sunday, Massoud claimed hundreds of Taliban fighters had surrendered to NRFA forces, which included remnants of regular Afghan army and special forces units as well as local militia fighters. It was not clear if that was a separate claim.

The Panjshir fighting has been the most prominent example of resistance to the Taliban, whose forces swept into Kabul on August 15 as the Western-backed government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have issued directives to ban aerial firing in Kabul and other Afghan cities.

Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, took to Twitter on Sunday and wrote that all the authorities in Kabul and other provinces of Afghanistan have been directed to arrest the individuals involved in the aerial firing. Those involved will also be disarmed and expelled from the cities.

On the other hand, Qatar said it will operate daily aid flights to Afghanistan over the next few days, providing much-needed supplies following a hiatus in much Western aid due to the Taliban’s takeover last month.

The announcement comes after urgent humanitarian flights were sent from the UAE and Bahrain to Afghanistan over the weekend which contained food and medical supplies.

The Qatari aid flight carrying medical supplies and food products arrived in Kabul on Saturday and Qatar Ambassador to Afghanistan Saeed bin Mubarak Al Khayareen was at the airport for its arrival, the Gulf State’s foreign ministry said.

Half of Afghanistan’s 40 million people, including 10 million children, required humanitarian assistance as of the start of this year, the International Organization for Migration said late last month, adding that needs were expected to rise.

 

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