KABUL - Anti-government militants have stepped up activities against government interests elsewhere in the conflict-hit Afghanistan as three districts have fallen to the insurgents over the past one week.

Taliban militants in the latest achievements overrun the statically important Tala-o-Barfak district in the northern Baghlan province on Tuesday night putting the government forces into defensive positions.

According to local observers, if the Taliban were able to keep control over Tala-o-Barfak district which connects Baghlan to the central Bamyan province, the militant group would be able to tighten the noose around neighbouring Kohmard and Sighan districts in Bamyan.

The militants have also captured Bilchiragh district in the northern Faryab province and Kohistan district in Badakhshan province, inflicting casualties on security forces, according to media reports, besides capturing arms and ammunitions, over the past few days.

Although the government forces have recaptured Bilchiragh district in the northern Faryab province and have been fighting back to evict militants from the remaining Kohistan and Tala-o-Barfak districts, Afghans have doubted government’s ability to root out militants and bring about lasting peace in the country.

“It has been 13 days since we left our houses due to conflict in Tishkan district of Badakhshan but we have not received any humanitarian assistance from government, nor military operations to oust militants from our villages,” complained a displaced person in talks with local television channel Tolo on Thursday.

Meantime, an army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said that the security forces would chase militants elsewhere to ensure viable peace in the country.

The Taliban outfit launched its so-called annual spring offensive on April 25 and since then fierce fighting has erupted in parts of the country.

Both the Taliban and the hardliner Islamic State group claimed responsibility for attacks on police stations in Kabul on Wednesday that left over two dozen people dead and injured besides damaging properties at nearby buildings.

FORCES KILL 26 MILITANTS

As many as 26 militants loyal to the Taliban outfit were killed following a series of operations in the country’s southern Ghor and eastern Laghman provinces over the past 24 hours, officials said Thursday.

Up to 14 insurgents have been killed and six others wounded in Shahrak district of Ghor province since Wednesday and several villages have been liberated from militants’ clutches, Mohammad Iqbal, the provincial police spokesman told Xinhua.

One local policeman lost his life during the operations, he added.

Similarly in Alingar district of the eastern Laghman province over the past 24 hours, 12 militants have been killed and another arrested during operations launched by the National Directorate for Security (NDS), said Sarhadi Zowak, the spokesman of the provincial governor.

AFP adds: The death toll from apparent coordinated attacks on two Kabul police stations has risen to 10, the health ministry said Thursday, as the Afghan capital remains on edge in expectation of more violence.

At least 23 people were also wounded in Wednesday’s hours-long assaults in the city, the ministry said. The Taliban and Islamic State group each claimed responsibility for one of the attacks.

The Taliban said the attack in front of a police station in Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood in downtown Kabul was revenge for an Afghan airstrike on a religious ceremony in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan on April 2.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Monday that children made up most of the 107 casualties in the airstrike that Afghan authorities said had targeted senior Taliban commanders planning attacks.

“It was revenge for the perpetrators and organisers of that attack who used this centre (in Kabul) to plan and organise the attack (in Kunduz province),” the Taliban said in a statement.

During a weeks-long investigation, UNAMA verified that 36 people were killed - 30 of them children - in the attack in Dasht-e-Archi district.

Seventy-one people were wounded, including 51 children, it said.

A senior Taliban commander told AFP recently the Kunduz attack had given the militant group a propaganda boost.

“People in general are very angry with the attack on a seminary in Kunduz and it has positively changed the atmosphere for the Taliban,” he told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

“All doors for peace talks are currently closed. I can see more war in the future.”

Suicide bombers and gunmen carried out Wednesday’s attacks in Kabul, with loud explosions and volleys of gunfire jangling already frayed nerves in the city.

 

 

Xinhua