Taliban suffer casualties during the clashes in 3 northern provinces
15 May, 2018, 16:27 | Author: Irene Delgado
Heavy fighting has broken out in the western Afghan city of Farah after the Taliban launched a major offensive overnight to capture the restive provincial capital, with residents reporting air strikes, explosions and gunfire.
However, another official said that "the Taliban captured several security checkpoints inside and around the city".
"Heavy fighting continues inside the city and aircraft have just started bombarding Taliban positions", she said.
"Security checkpoints around the city have collapsed in the hands of the Taliban, causing high casualties among security forces", he said.
In January, NATO's Resolute Support Mission, tasked with building up the Afghan government's security forces, assessed that almost 15 percent of the country's 407 districts - more than 20 percent of the landmass - was under insurgent control or influence, according to a watchdog report released this month.
The residents have said that the Taliban took control of a part of the NDS building, a claim which was rejected by Danish.
Taliban militants, who ruled the country before being ousted in late 2001, have intensified armed attacks against security forces since April 25 during their annual rebel offensive.
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This comes as the Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the group announced its spring offensive but the Afghan forces have also stepped up efforts to counter the militants attacks.
But inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing.
The province, which also borders the opium-rich Taliban heartland of Helmand province, has key smuggling routes into Iran. The governor of the province stepped down in January, blaming the worsening security situation and what he said was political interference and corruption.
Satar Hissaini, a tribal elder in Farah, told AFP that although the situation is "very bad", the city was being defended. "An intense battle is going on in the city", he said without providing additional details.
The insurgents released a statement warning residents to remain inside their homes and called on people to "stay calm".
Clashes have been ongoing for the past few months in different parts of Farah province.
Despite security concerns, the Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the gas project. In 2017 insurgents tried three times to overrun the capital, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.
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