Taliban fighters seized the sixth Afghan provincial capital on Monday after a weekend offensive within the north.
The weekend offensive noticed city centres fall in fast succession and the federal government forces wrestle to maintain the fighters at bay.
Taliban fighters entered Aibak and not using a battle after group elders pleaded with officers to spare town from extra violence after weeks of clashes on the outskirts, mentioned Sefatullah Samangani, deputy governor of Samangan province.
“The governor accepted and withdrew all the forces from the city,” Samangani added, saying the Taliban have been now in “full control”.
A Taliban spokesman confirmed town had been taken. The insurgents have overrun 5 provincial capitals throughout the north, sparking fears the federal government is quickly shedding management of the area.
The Taliban have additionally taken Zaranj, capital of Nimroz province, within the southwest.
Earlier Monday, the Taliban mentioned they have been shifting in on Mazar-i-Sharif, the most important metropolis within the north and a linchpin for the federal government’s management of the area, after capturing Sheberghan to its west, and Kunduz and Taloqan to its east.
A spokesman mentioned Taliban fighters had entered town, however officers — and residents contacted by telephone — mentioned the group was exaggerating, with clashes confined to surrounding districts.
“The enemy is trying to distort public opinion and create anxiety for the civilian population by their propaganda,” mentioned a press release from the provincial police power in Balkh, the place Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital.
Mazar’s longtime strongman Atta Mohammad Noor vowed to battle to the top, saying there can be “resistance until the last drop of my blood”.
“I prefer dying in dignity than dying in despair,” he tweeted.
The lack of town, steeped in historical past and lengthy an financial hub, would sign the collapse of Kabul’s management of the north and certain increase main questions on the way forward for the federal government.
In Kunduz, the second-largest metropolis within the north that fell to the Taliban on Sunday, residents mentioned insurgents have been everywhere in the metropolis, occupying authorities workplaces and establishments.
“The security situation is not good and we fled to save our lives,” mentioned Rahmatullah, a 28-year-old resident.
“It is like a horror movie,” he added.
One other resident Abdul Qudoos mentioned fears have been rising that Kunduz would face meals and water shortages.
Combating within the south
Because the Taliban pressed forward within the north, preventing additionally raged within the south, the place Afghan forces have been locked in heavy street-to-street preventing with the Taliban.
The insurgents have for weeks been attempting to take Kandahar and Lashkar Gah — each with Pashtun majorities from the place the Taliban draw their energy.
“We’re clearing houses, roads, and buildings that the Taliban occupy,” mentioned Normal Sami Sadat, commander of the Afghan military’s 215 Corps in Lashkar Gah.
The ministry of defence mentioned a whole lot of Taliban fighters had been killed or injured within the final 24 hours.
Each side routinely exaggerate loss of life tolls which are nearly inconceivable to confirm.
The claims come a day after Kunduz, Sar-e-Pul and Taloqan within the north fell inside hours of one another.
Northern Afghanistan has lengthy been thought of an anti-Taliban stronghold that noticed a number of the stiffest resistance to the Taliban rule within the 1990s.
The area stays house to a number of militias and can also be a fertile recruiting floor for the nation’s armed forces.
Combating in Afghanistan’s long-running battle has escalated dramatically since Might, when the US-led navy coalition started the ultimate stage of a withdrawal set to be accomplished earlier than the top of the month.