(Update 1: Alters headline, lede and adds the withdrawal of Afghan troops)
Kabul, Jul 5 (EFE).- Hundreds of Afghan troops retreated to neighboring Tajikistan fleeing attacks by the Taliban on the remote and mountainous regions of the Badakhshan province, local sources announced.
“Hundreds of security officers, including members of the army, police, local police and militia civilians withdrew to neighboring Tajikistan following attacks by the Taliban on the border districts of the province,” told Efe a member of the Badakhshan provincial council on the condition of anonymity.
The exodus began three days ago after the Taliban seized most of the districts in the province.
Most of the deserters had been assigned to the border districts, but they could not reach the capital of the province, Fayzabad, which is still under the Afghan government’s control, the source added.
Besides most of the province, the insurgents have control over highways, which prevents troops from joining their commanders in the capital.
“For now, we are working on that, we will have the details about it once we obtain information,” said Fawad Aman, a spokesperson for the defense ministry, without providing more details.
The spokesperson for the Taliban Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that over 1,000 soldiers crossed the borders into Tajikistan.
The insurgents told the soldiers they would be allowed to leave if they surrendered, “but they did not trust us and fled to Tajikistan,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the Taliban said they planned to capture no Afghan provincial capital by military force even as its fighters continue making rapid territorial gains amid an ongoing withdrawal of foreign troops from the war-ravaged country.