April 28, 2018
The Taliban militant group has seized a district center in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz and launched a bomb attack on an army base in the southern province of Helmand, killing at least six people, officials say.
According to Sayyed Assadullah Sadat, a provincial council member in Kunduz, the militants captured the governor’s house and took control of the police headquarters in Aq Tapa in Qala-e Zal district of the volatile province on Saturday.
He added that Afghan government troops had already engaged in fierce battle with the occupying militants to drive them out.
Meanwhile, Taliban claimed in a statement that their militants had also seized control of 10 security check posts and a market in Qala-e Zal, north of Kunduz city.
At the other end of the country, in Helmand, Taliban militants drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a military base in Nad Ali district, the blast of which killed at least four civilians and a soldier, said a statement released by the provincial governor’s office on Saturday.
On Friday night, Taliban militants also destroyed a house by rocket fire in Hoodi area of Goshta district in the eastern province of Nangarhar. According to Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial spokesman, the attack killed at least five civilians, including three women, and wounded two other women and a child.
Earlier this week, Taliban militants announced the official start of their annual spring raids, seen across the crisis-hit country recently as warmer weather has set in, continuing the heavy fighting, particularly against the government soldiers.
The escalation in attacks by Taliban showed the group was barely interested in an offer of peace talks by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Taliban made no mention of the offer that came in February, showing that the group may even intensify its devastating campaign across Afghanistan.
The US-backed Afghan government is under pressure on multiple fronts this year as it prepares to hold long-delayed legislative elections even as its security forces struggle to get the upper hand on the battlefield and prevent civilian casualties.
Airstrikes by US warplanes have also significantly increased in recent months against the purported positions of Taliban and other militant outfits, including the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, in the country.
Earlier this year, the UN figures showed that more than 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the Afghan conflict last year. While the main cause of civilian deaths was said to be militant bombings, the report said US airstrikes as well as government forces had also caused casualties.
US-led forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled a ruling Taliban regime some 17 years ago. That ongoing war has failed to bring stability to the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign forces. A recent survey found that the Taliban militants were active in two-thirds of the country and were fully controlling four percent of it.