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Taliban takes control of key Afghan district

Dozens of districts have fallen to the Taliban since May 1, when US and NATO troops began their final departure from Afghanistan

IP Report

KABUL: Taliban fighters have taken control of a key district in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province and encircled the provincial capital as the group added to its recent battlefield victories while peace talks have stalemated.

The Taliban’s gains came as the Pentagon reaffirmed the US troop withdrawal was still on pace to conclude by early September. Fighting around Imam Sahib district began late on Sunday and by midday Monday the Taliban had overrun the district headquarters and were in control of police headquarters, said Inamud din Rahmani, provincial police spokesman said.

Taliban militants were within a kilometre (6 miles) of Kunduz, the provincial capital but had not entered into the city, he said, although there were reports of small bands of Taliban near the outskirts and residents trying to leave for Kabul.

Dozens of districts have fallen to the Taliban since May 1, when US and NATO troops began their final departure from Afghanistan. Like Imam Sahib district in northern Kunduz, their significance often lies in their proximity to roads and major cities.

Imam Sahib is strategically located near Afghanistan’s northern border with Tajikistan, a key supply route from Central Asia.

Rahmani said police and Afghan National Army soldiers had jointly tried to defend the district. He said it still wasn’t clear how many casualties the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces suffered in the protracted battle or how many Taliban were killed or wounded.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed confimed Imam Sahib district was in Taliban hands.

Several other districts in Kunduz have also fallen to the insurgent group in the latest round of fighting, including Dasht e Archi, which neighbors Imam Sahib, said Rahmani, further consolidating local transportation links in the area.

Syed Mohammad Mousavi drove with his family to the relative safety of Kabul from northern Mazar e Sharif, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Kunduz on Sunday.

He said people were trying to leave Kunduz city for Kabul fearing additional fighting. “The Taliban were all over the road, checking cars. We were very scared,” he said after reaching the capital.In recent days, the Taliban have taken several districts across the three northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan and Balkh, said Mousavi.






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