Radio Free Afghanistan
May 6, 2021
Taliban fighters have captured Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam and two Afghan Army bases, militants and officials said, as fighting escalates amid the ongoing pullout of U.S. and international forces from the war-wracked country.
Dahla Dam, also known as Arghandab Dam, is located in the Shah Wali Kot district of the southern province of Kandahar, some 40 kilometers north of the provincial capital, Kandahar City.
The dam, which provides irrigation to farmers via a network of canals as well as drinking water for Kandahar City, is now under Taliban control after months of fierce fighting in the militants’ former stronghold of Kandahar.
“We have seized the Dahla Dam in Arghandab,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told the media.
Haji Gulbuddin, governor of an adjacent district, confirmed the dam “is now in the control of the Taliban.”
“Our security forces … asked for reinforcements but they failed to get it,” he said.
The capture of the dam comes after heavy fighting erupted in the neighboring province of Helmand this week just days after the U.S. military formally began withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan.
The militants last month blew up a bridge that connected the dam to adjacent districts.
Dahla Dam was built by American engineers almost 70 years ago to provide water for irrigating land in about seven districts of Kandahar.
In neighboring Helmand, thousands of people have fled their homes in the face of a large-scale Taliban offensive against the Afghan Army.
U.S. fighter jets have been providing air support for the Afghan forces despite the drawdown of foreign troops.
Although the United States did not meet a May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed in talks with the Taliban last year, it did begin to pull its forces on that date after President Joe Biden announced all troops will out by September 11.
The decision was criticized by some, who argue that the militants will try to sweep back into power.
Meanwhile, local officials and the Taliban said two government bases fell to the militants in the northern province of Baghlan.
The militants launched the attacks on the bases in the Baghlan-e-Markzai and Nahrin districts of the province late on May 5, the officials told TOLOnews.
“Four Taliban were killed, and six others were wounded,” unnamed Baghlan police officials said, adding that the government forces had been pushed back.
In a separate development, a former journalist was killed in Kandahar City on May 6, TOLOnews reported, quoting his relatives.
Nemat Rawan, a former TOLOnews journalist who had joined the media division of the Finance Ministry, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen, his relatives confirmed.
Ghorzang Afridi, a security official at Kandahar police, confirmed the information.
“The attackers have also stolen his phone,” he said.
The number of targeted attacks against media workers has been on the rise in Afghanistan since the start of the year.
With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters, and TOLOnews