Taliban attacks Farah city in west Afghanistan, kills dozens

15 May, 2018, 22:18 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Heavy clashes in W. Afghanistan city as major Taliban offensive kicks off

Heavy fighting was ongoing in western Farah province near the Iranian border Tuesday morning after Taliban fighters launched a predawn assault on Farah city, killing and wounding several Afghan troops.

Afghan aircraft bombed Taliban positions as residents sought shelter from the explosions and gunfire.

A spokesman for the Chief Executive office Javid Faisal said the commandos have been deployed in police headquarters, intelligence compound, and the central prison of Farah. Officials reported a small number of casualties during the day, and there was no official update by evening.

Provincial governor Basir Salangi said that Taliban attacked Farah city around 2am local time and suffered heavy casualties.

A spokesman for the Taliban said in an online message that the insurgents had taken most of the provincial capital. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city.

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The province, which also borders the opium-rich Taliban heartland of Helmand province, has key smuggling routes into Iran.

There was no immediate confirmation from NATO's mission in Kabul.

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.

"The Taliban are moving very fast, if the government does not take serious and speedy action, the province is going to collapse to Taliban", said Hamidullah, a resident of the city reached by telephone.

In the last week Afghan security forces suffered heavy losses in clashes against insurgents across the country, but on Sunday the Afghan interior ministry said that security forces have retreated from some areas that have high threat levels so as to avoid additional fatalities.

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Another provincial council member, Dadullah Qani, confirmed Hissaini's comments.

"I saw two rickshaw drivers on the ground with their arms blown off", said Khan Mohammad, a local resident who saw the initial blasts and the start of the gun battle.

The Taliban issued a statement warning residents to remain inside their homes and called on people to "stay calm".

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.

The Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the project.

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The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year.

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