HERAT (Dispatches) – Afghan and Taliban forces clashed in several provinces including on the outskirts of Herat Saturday, a day after a police guard was killed when a United Nations compound in the western city came under attack.
Violence has surged across the country since early May, when the Taliban launched a sweeping offensive. The militants have seized scores of districts across Afghanistan, including in Herat province, where the group has also captured two border crossings adjoining Iran and Turkmenistan.
Officials and residents reported renewed fighting on the outskirts of Herat Saturday, with hundreds fleeing their homes to seek shelter closer to the heart of the city.
Herat governor Abdul Saboor Qani said most of the fighting was in Injil and Guzara district -- where the airport is located.
“At the moment the fighting is ongoing in the south and southeast. We are moving cautiously and to avoid civilian casualties,” Qani said.
Meanwhile, two civilians got killed and 30 others sustained injuries in a Taliban attack during a National Flag Day celebration in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, national media reported Saturday, citing the governor’s office.
The attack took place in the Yaqubi district, TOLOnews said, without providing further details regarding the attack.
During fighting Friday, the main Herat compound of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan came under attack from rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire that the UN blamed on anti-government elements.
“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative for Afghanistan.
The perpetrators were not immediately clear. The Taliban militant group put the incident down to possible crossfire.
“It is possible that guards could have sustained harm in crossfire due to close proximity of the office to the fighting,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.
Fighting continues in Afghanistan as negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban have so far failed to produce an agreement to end the war.
The United States, along with its NATO allies, invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. The invasion, which has led to the longest war in U.S. history, removed the Taliban from power, but it worsened the security situation in the country.