Kabul, Sep 3 (EFE).- The Taliban on Friday intensified their offensive in the northern province of Panjshir, the last of the 34 Afghan provinces that has not fallen into the hands of the militants, with attacks from all directions leaving heavy casualties on both sides.
“In Unaba and Darband areas of Panjshir, 31 militia and soldiers have been killed and Taliban advanced in several other fronts of Panjshir as well where the enemy suffered heavy casualties,” Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi told EFE.
“The enemy is surrounded in Panjshir, the situation is not in their favor,” he said, refering to the fighters of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan.
The Islamist group has requested the support of thousands of fighters in several nearby provinces to attack Panjshir, a Taliban source who asked not to be named told EFE.
The Taliban revealed that reinforcements from the neighboring provinces of Kapisa and Parwan were attacking the districts of Unaba and Rokha, while fighters from eastern Laghman province were focused on attacks on Paryan district, and those from northern Baghlan province were focused on Khinj district in Panjshir.
“We have captured tens of check posts from the enemy,” the spokesperson said.
On the other hand, at least two sources from the National Resistance Front told EFE that most of the Taliban attacks were pushed back from Panjshir and the Islamists suffered heavy casualties.
“Taliban lost hundreds of fighters, they left behind dead bodies in mountains and retreated back from some areas,” one of the sources said.
Panjshir is the only Afghan province to hold out against the Taliban, after the latter captured the other 33 provinces in less than two weeks, culminating in the take over of Kabul on Aug.15.
Andarab district in the northern province of Baghlan, bordering Panjshir, is another territory that continues to defy the Taliban.
The forces in Panjshir are led by the erstwhile Afghan vice president, Amrullah Saleh, and Ahmad Masoud, son of legendary Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Masoud, who led successive guerilla wars against Soviet forces and the Taliban in 1980’s-1990’s.
The Panjshir province was the center of resistance against the Taliban during the group’s previous regime between 1996-2001 and the insurgents were unable to capture it despite years of fighting. EFE