Taliban seize key Kandahar district after fierce fighting

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300 of Afghan troops flee


Kabul

The Taliban have captured a key district in their former bastion of Kandahar after fierce night-time fighting with Afghan government forces, officials said on Sunday.

The insurgents have pressed on with their campaign to capture territories across Afghanistan’s rural areas since early May when the US military began the pullout.

The fall of Panjwai district in the southern province of Kandahar comes just two days after US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces vacated their main Bagram Air Base near Kabul, from where they led operations for two decades against the Taliban.

Over the years, the Taliban and Afghan forces have regularly clashed in and around Panjwai, with the insurgents aiming to seize it, given its proximity to the Kandahar city, the provincial capital.

Panjwai Governor Hasti Mohammad said Afghan forces and the Taliban clashed during the night, resulting in government forces retreating from the area.

“The Taliban have captured the district police headquarters and governor’s office building,” he told AFP.

Kandahar provincial council head Sayed Jan Khakriwal confirmed the fall of Panjwai, but accused government forces of “intentionally withdrawing”.—AFP/AP

 

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