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Taliban pile pressure on Kabul, seize another town

KUNDUZ: Taliban fighters seized a district in the northern province of Baghlan and kept up pressure on the central city of Ghazni as heavy fighting continued across Afghanistan following the start of the insurgents’ annual spring offensive last month.

Police officials said security forces had abandoned the district centre of Tala-wa Bafrak after becoming cut off from supplies during days of fighting.

 

“The Taliban have been attacking the district for a few days and at 11am we had to retreat,” said provincial police spokesman Zabihullah Shuja.

The loss follows Taliban pressure last week on the northern province of Badakhshan, where the insurgents took control of a district centre and have been battling government forces who claimed to have retaken it.

In Ghazni province, south of the capital Kabul, government forces backed by air strikes have been battling for control of a key highway and fierce fighting continued on Tuesday, with the Taliban saying it had killed more than 100 government troops.

Mohammad Zaman, police chief of Ghazni said five Taliban militants were killed and their bodies were left at the site of the attack. Security officials said around 100 Taliban fighters had been killed in clashes in four provinces over the past 48 hours, with heavy fighting also seen in Faryab province in the northwest.

Estimates of enemy casualties on both sides in the Afghan conflict are often inflated but the numbers point to heavy fighting, underlining the challenge for the government as it prepares for parliamentary elections in October.

Dozens of people have been killed in suicide attacks in Kabul in recent weeks, including some 60 people at a voter registration centre and nine journalists in a blast on April 30.