KABUL (Dispatches) – Taliban militants have taken over a district, launched attacks on checkpoints and cemented control over a border trade crossing, officials said on Monday, as clashes intensify in Afghanistan’s central and northern provinces.
Violence has risen sharply around the country as talks in Qatar have failed to make significant progress.
The Taliban have launched a wave of offensives around the country, particularly in the north, outside of their southern strongholds.
In central Bamiyan province, normally relatively free of conflict, Taliban fighters attacked several security checkpoints, resulting in heavy clashes overnight, according to Humayoon Elkhani, spokesman for Bamiyan’s provincial police.
In central Ghazni province, Muqur district fell to the Taliban after months of being under siege, according to a member of the provincial council and a security source. A health center in the district was bombed on Monday morning, according to provincial health director Zaher Shah Nekmal, injuring five health workers.
In northern Badakhshan province, the Taliban launched coordinated attacks on five districts overnight but were fought back by Afghan security forces, according to a spokesperson for the provincial government.
The Taliban also still has maintained control of Shir Khan Bandar, a significant border crossing town with Tajikistan, after seizing it last week.
Shafiqullah Atayi, chairman of Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Investment, said the Taliban had appointed their own members to run the administration offices but that trade had stopped. A Taliban spokesman said they had appointed officials to run the transit point and it was open for people to cross.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s capital Kabul suffered severe power outages in recent days after a power pylon in central Parwan province was blown up on the weekend by unknown attackers.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan defended its decision to arm nearly 30,000 people to help troops limit the Taliban from making more territorial gains.
“These are spontaneous local uprising forces to help national security and defense forces against the Taliban because these terrorists have committed brutalities in captured areas,” Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Arab News on Sunday.
He said these armed groups were not militia forces and would operate “under the scrutiny” of security sectors.
The unrest began after the U.S. missed a May 1 deadline to withdraw its forces from the country and pushed it back to September 11. The Taliban had already warned against the consequences of the move. Twenty years after occupation of the country by U.S. forces, the security situation in the country has not improved.