Kabul, Aug 9 (EFE).- The Taliban on Monday attacked the provincial capitals of Balkh and Samangan provinces in northern Afghanistan, officials told Efe.
Over the past four days, the militants have captured the provincial capitals of five other provinces in the country.
“Taliban launched an offensive from the west of Mazar-e-Sharif city but security forces reacted strongly and somehow pushed their attacks back,” Balkh governor’s spokesperson Munir Ahmad Farhad informed EFE.
According to Balkh police spokesperson Adil Shah Adil, the Taliban attacks came from Dihadi district in the west and were repelled by the security forces as the Afghan air force “bombed several hideouts of the Taliban in the area.”
Dihdadi district is of strategic importance in the conflict as it is the headquarters of the 209th Shaheen Military Corps of the Army, responsible for the security of several northwestern provinces.
Most of the remote districts of Balkh province have already fallen to the Taliban in the past three months, during which the insurgents captured around 125 district centers and seven border crossings.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet claimed that their fighters attacked Mazar-e-Sharif city “from all four directions” and their fighters “entered” the city from western parts, something government officials have rejected.
“Heavy fighting is underway in our area and Taliban are using heavy and light weapons and firing rockets,” Nazar Mohammad, a resident of Dihdadi district in Balkh province, told EFE.
Ghulam Sediq, another resident of Dihdadi district told EFE that several residents and villagers have evacuated their homes and fled to Mazar-e-Sharif city.
“Taliban warned us to leave our houses because they are launching armed attacks on the district,” he said.
Taliban also launched attacks on the neighboring Samangan province, where they captured Hazrat-e-Sultan district overnight, after the security forces retreated to the outskirts of the provincial capital of Aybak, the province’s parliamentarian Mahbuba Rahmat told EFE.
Taliban spokesperson Mujahid claimed having also captured the strategic valley of Dar-e-Zandan near Aybak city.
A provincial official in Samangan, who asked not to be named, told EFE that a former senator and local commander, Muhammad Asif Azimi, surrendered overnight to the Taliban along with more than 150 fighters.
Besides northern Afghanistan, fighting was underway in 13 of the 34 Afghan provinces in the last 24 hours, during which 579 Taliban fighters were killed and 61 were injured, according to the Ministry of Defense.
The attacks on Balkh and Samangan provinces came a day after the Taliban captured the provincial capitals of northern Sar-e-Pol, Kunduz and Takhar provinces.
While heavy fighting was still underway in parts of Kunduz city, in the neighboring Takhar province, the security force captured Farkhar and Warsaj districts from the Taliban, according to local security officials.
Fighting has also been underway between the armed forces and the Taliban for the last few weeks in the capital cities of southern Kandahar, southwestern Helmand and western Herat provinces. EFE